How it happened: Georgetown scored bucket after bucket early, survived a clanking final 30 minutes and defended throughout in a thrilling 53-51 over No. 5 Louisville. Otto Porter and Markel Starks each scored 17 points for the Hoyas (14-4, 4-3), who have won four of five games. Both teams shot under 35 percent from the floor after halftime, but Georgetown offset those misses with dogged pursuit of rebounds, including Aaron Bowen's acrobatic putback with 3:38 remaining.
Bowen's basket - his only one of the game - broke a 50-all tie and proved to be the final field goal by either team. Louisville's Chase Behanon split a pair of free throws with 2:22 remaining and the Cardinals (16-4, 4-3) missed their final six shots from the floor, including Peyton Siva's jumper with six seconds remaining. Porter grabbed the rebound, one of his game-high 12, and made a free throw with 1.4 seconds left. Like many of their shot attempts, the Cardinals final full court heave missed.
Starks produced on both ends of the court, holding Louisville's dynamic lead guard Peyton Siva scoreless. Georgetown, which only briefly trailed early in the second half, also held Louisville's leading scorer Russ Smith to 12 points, six below his average. The Cardinals hurt themselves at the free throw line, missing six of 10 in the second half after making all 12 attempts in the first half.
Georgetown started the game sinking 9 of 11 shots and scored 24 points in the opening 9:49. Over the final 30 minutes, 10-38 from the floor and 28 points. That early stretch played largely at the expected up-tempo clip. The final 30 minutes, not so much; the end of the first half turned into a free throw shooting contest and the both teams bore down defensively after halftime.
The Hoyas have won four straight over the Cardinals, who inexplicably have dropped three in a row after being ranked No. 1 in the country.
Key stat: Even with the now academically ineligible Greg Whittington, Georgetown struggled rebounding throughout the season, but finished with a 34-29 advantage over Louisville, 11-9 on the offensive glass. The Hoyas had lost the offensive rebounding battle in six of their last seven outings. The extra looks led to 13 second-chance points, eight coming after halftime.
What it means: Seeing as the Hoyas started conference play with consecutive losses and then lost Whittington, the team's second leading scorer and rebounder, few outside of the program could have foreseen the team not simply surviving but thriving. While the Big East standings remain a jumbled mess, Georgetown is now only two games behind Syracuse, losers on Saturday to Villanova.
Tactics - Already using more three-guard looks lately than at any point this season, Georgetown threw out a small-ball, four-perimeter player look with Bowen joining Starks, Jabril Trawick, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and either Porter or Nate Lubick. The lineup surrendered rebounds, but also kept the offensive flow going against the Cardinals pressure defense and gave Thompson the opportunity to rest one of his
Extra seconds: Not that it mattered in the end, but the game clock froze for approximately 24 seconds with around six minutes left in the second half.
Up next: The middle contest of the three-game home stand pits Georgetown against Seton Hall. The Pirates (13-6, 2-4), part of the basketball-only school exodus from the Big East along with the Hoyas, play at St. John's on Sunday.