It's been a while since anyone has written this sentence: The Georgetown men's basketball team lost a game.
In 11 contests since January 21, the Hoyas stayed in victory lane, cruising from unranked to No. 5 in the country. More importantly, Georgetown jumped to the top of the Big East standings. After Wednesday's 67-57 loss at Villanova, the Hoyas now have some company. With one game remaining in the regular season, the Hoyas (23-5, ) are now tied with Louisville and Marquette.
Throughout the winning streak, the Hoyas overcame all obstacles because of their defense, Otto Porter's production, and timely contributions from all corners of their roster. At times against the Wildcats, all of those factors showed up, but were hardly enough to overcome a season-high 23 turnovers and a massive discrepancy from the free throw line.
Otto Porter Jr. led the Hoyas with 17 points, but for once, he wasn't Superman. The Big East's leading 3-point shooter missed six of eight attempts from beyond the arc and grabbed only three rebounds. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a confident 14 points with several baskets falling despite a high degree of difficulty. Markel Starks had 12 before fouling out.
The Hoyas surged back several times in the second half, but continually came up a shot, rebound or pass short of tying the game.
Porter scored with 11:04 play to pull the Hoyas within 44-43, but he missed a game-tying free throw on a possible 3-point play. After Nate Lubick's runner made it 51-48 with 7:12 left, Villanova immediately countered with a 3-pointer. Starks, who picked up his fourth foul with 16 minutes remaining, attacked the basket late and his layup had Georgetown down 56-52, with 2:50 left, but the Wildcats hit 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch.
JayVaughn Pinkston had 20 points on 11 of 14 free throws with five steals for the Wildcats (19-12, 10-8), who likely earned their NCAA Tournament at-large bid after beating their third top-5 ranked team this season.
Villanova shot 47.1 percent from the field, the best any team fared against Georgetown since Pittsburgh finished at 55.1percent in the 73-45 drubbing over the Hoyas on Jan. 8. On the season Georgetown is 1-3 when the opponent shoots over 45 percent from the floor.
The stat: The Hoyas took only eight free throws, making four. On most nights, that number of attempts would seem paltry. When your opponent takes 42, it appears microscopic. Villanova finished with a 30-4 advantage from the line as the refs whistled the Hoyas for 27 fouls compared to 12 for the Wildcats.
Turnover fest: Three times this season the Hoyas committed a season-high 17 turnovers. They had more than that with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Georgetown shot 52.2 percent in the first half, but entered the halftime locker room with more turnovers (13) than made field goals (12). Five players had at least two with the miscues ranging from double dribbles against the Wildcats pressure to poor passes while navigating Villanova's tricky defensive switches.
History: The 11-game Big East winning streak matched the program record set during the 2006-07 season.
The race: While the tiebreaker scenario has many ins and outs, here is the exact and main portion Big East "multiple-team tie" rule:
"1. Teams are viewed as a “mini-conference” when comparing head-to-head results. The team with the best record (as determined by winning percentage, even if unequal games) vs. the other teams in the mini-conference gains the advantage. The team with the worst record (as determined by winning percentage, even if unequal games) vs. the other teams in the mini-conference is seeded the lowest."
Georgetown beat Louisville and split two games with Marquette while the Cardinals defeated the Golden Eagles. Therefore, should the teams remained tied after their respective final games, the Hoyas would receive the No. 1 seed for the Big East Tournament with Louisville second.
Who’s next: Do I really have to say? No. 17 Syracuse visits the Verizon Center for the final time as a member of any version of the Big East conference. While the Hoyas and Orange tip at noon, Marquette plays at St. John's at 2 p.m. while Louisville hosts No. 24 Notre Dame at 4p.m. All three teams have already clinched a double-bye in the tournament and will begin play on March 14 at Madison Square Garden.