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Georgetown captures Big East title with rout of Syracuse
Georgetown coach John Thompson III was noting all the ways — and there were many — in which his team’s lopsided, Big East-closing victory over Syracuse was significant, when a familiar baritone voice rose from the back of the interview room.
“Kiss Syracuse goodbye!” interrupted Thompson’s father.
John Thompson Jr. coached Georgetown to a regular-season title in 1979-80, Year 1 of the Big East, and his son took the Hoyas to the final regular-season title before the conference undergoes massive changes, emphatically ending the rivalry against Syracuse with a 61-39 win Saturday.
On an afternoon that Otto Porter Jr. didn’t make a field goal until the second half, No. 5 Georgetown held No. 17 Syracuse to its lowest scoring total in 558 Big East games — and its fewest points in any game since a 36-35 victory over Kent State on Dec. 1, 1962, back before shot clocks and 3-pointers. It also was the series’ biggest margin since Georgetown beat Syracuse by 27 in 1985.
“It’s special because the Big East, as we have known it, is ending,” Thompson III said. “Georgetown won the first one, and now Georgetown’s won the last. So that means a lot.”
Porter finished with 10 points, but the national player of the year candidate contributed in plenty of other ways, as usual, with eight rebounds and seven assists. With Syracuse focusing on Porter, Markel Starks scored 19, and freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hoyas (24-5, 14-4), who will be the No. 1 seed at the Big East tournament next week in New York.
“I don’t want anything to get clouded: It’s not over. We hope to go up to New York and play well and win that. And then we hope to play well and win the NCAA tournament,” Thompson III said. “I’m not saying we’ve accomplished our goals, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Try telling that to Georgetown’s fans.
When the game ended, they stormed the court — even though the favorite won — and it took a while to clear them away so Georgetown could have a brief ceremony celebrating its title in the last year of the league as it’s currently constituted. Georgetown’s players even cut down the nets.
The Hoyas have won 12 of their last 13 games, including two wins against Syracuse; Porter scored 33 in a victory at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 23. It’s the Hoyas’ first two-game sweep of a season series over the Orange since 2001-02.
Syracuse (23-8, 11-7), which had been hoping for a double-bye in the tournament, was led by Michael Carter-Williams’ 17 points. But the Orange shot only 32 percent from the field, including 1 for 11 on 3-point tries, and lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
“A blip,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim called it.
He waxed on and on about the history of the Big East and his school’s storied matchups against Georgetown.
“It’s been an unbelievable rivalry, and you don’t remember one game or two, you remember the total package,” Boeheim said.
This regular-season finale was the schools’ 89th meeting overall (Syracuse leads 48-41) — but the last time they will face each other in the regular season as Big East foes. Syracuse is heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Georgetown is one of seven schools splitting away to form a basketball-centric league that will get to keep the Big East name.
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