- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

John Thompson III should have bought a lottery ticket on the way home from Georgetown’s dissection of Syracuse.

The 13th-ranked Hoyas enjoyed a charmed night against No. 8 Syracuse, raining in jumpers from seemingly every spot on the floor en route to burying the Orange 88-74 before a raucous, sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

The Hoyas (12-3, 3-2 Big East) travel to No. 2 Duke on Saturday to complete the nation’s most brutal post-Christmas stretch against their fifth top-12 team in six games.

Georgetown only can hope Wednesday night’s smoldering shooting touch accompanies them to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Orange (16-2-4-1), the Hoyas had begun Big East play by shooting 31.3 percent from 3-point range. Aside from junior forward DaJuan Summers, the entire team struggled from behind the arc, nobody more than sophomore swingman Austin Freeman, who had made only one of 10 3-pointers in four Big East games.

On Wednesday night, Freeman and the entire roster didn’t just get off the shneid; they went off on the Orange.

With Freeman (19 points) and Summers (21 points) leading the perimeter onslaught, the Hoyas dropped 12 their of 21 3-point attempts to dispatch one of the nation’s hottest teams. Continuing a trend that began during Saturday’s second-half surge against Providence, the offense ran through freshman center Greg Monroe (10 points, seven rebounds, six assists), and Georgetown shredded Syracuse’s zone from the inside out.

The Hoyas shot 59.3 percent against Syracuse, scoring the most points in a Big East game in five years under Thompson.

“We put the ball in the basket,” Thompson said. “We did a very good job of throwing it in and throwing it back out, getting penetration and throwing it opposite. So they were the kind of 3s that tend to go in more often than when you just whip it around the horn [and jack it up]. When you get it into the paint and then work back out, the ball seems to go in a little more often.”

With John McCain sitting courtside and the entire NCAA tournament selection committee watching from a luxury box behind the Georgetown bench, the Hoyas put on a flashy first-half show against the Orange. Though the Hoyas never trailed, the game’s defining run came after Syracuse sophomore point guard Jonny Flynn (14 points, nine assists) dropped a pull-up 3-pointer to cut the Hoyas’ lead to 20-17 with 8:48 remaining before halftime.

The Hoyas responded with an 18-4 run over the next 5:13 with seven different players contributing points to the scoring surge, including reserves Jason Clark (12 points), Nikita Mescheriakov (six points), Julian Vaughn (five points) and Henry Sims (three points).

“Everyone played, and everyone made a significant contribution,” said Thompson, who saw all 10 of his scholarship players score. “That discussion about the gap between our first and second teams was for last month. That’s over. You saw that today. We have confidence in everyone on the team.”

Syracuse never recovered from Georgetown’s 50-32 halftime edge, making a handful of tepid runs in the second frame only to see each rebuffed by the Hoyas. Syracuse enjoyed some success on the offensive end against the Hoyas. Raw power forward Rick Jackson (17 points) and maligned guard Eric Devendorf (20 points) supplied a solid inside-outside combination for the Orange. But Syracuse simply could not string together a series of defensive stops against the confident Hoyas.

“We just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing defensively all year,” Syracuse Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim said. “We weren’t active. We didn’t rotate. … We gave them too many open looks, and they knocked them down. That’s to their credit. They’re a tremendous team, and they played extremely well tonight.”