- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Georgetown’s final pre-Big East walkthrough turned out to be a walkover.

The 12th-ranked Hoyas eviscerated Florida International 76-38 on Tuesday night at Verizon Center, notching their 29th consecutive home victory to establish a modern school record.

Georgetown won 47 consecutive home games between 1918 and 1924, but the longest streak since was 28 straight wins posted between 1988 and 1990.

The Hoyas (9-1) now enjoy a brief holiday respite before returning Monday to open Big East play at No. 2 Connecticut. The Huskies likely will pose a far greater challenge than the Golden Panthers (4-9). The visitors from the Sun Belt Conference would have been in far over their heads with a full complement of players. Without returning leading scorer Alex Galindo (ankle) and point guard Josue Soto (thumb), a team boasting only four available scholarship players never stood a whisper of a chance against a Georgetown squad poised to make up for Saturday’s lackluster victory against Mount St. Mary’s.

All 11 players on the Georgetown roster scored, with senior walk-on Bryon Jansen making a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining to cement the feat and set the final score.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the painfully inevitable proceedings was the absence in the starting lineup of Georgetown senior guard Jessie Sapp. The Harlem native had started 79 of his past 80 games, missing only one outing early in his sophomore campaign. On Monday night, he was replaced by sophomore forward Omar Wattad and didn’t make his first appearance until after the second media timeout, with 11:28 remaining in the first half.

“Don’t make a bigger deal out of that than it is,” said coach John Thompson III, who adamantly maintained that Sapp had done nothing on or off the floor to merit the benching. “That was more about Omar than Jessie. [Wattad] is someone that we put in charge of the second team. There has been a huge disparity between the two [teams] in practice, and it is getting smaller. It had better. That’s in large part due to Omar’s leadership.”

From a practical standpoint, Sapp’s late arrival hardly mattered. The Hoyas opened the game by burying eight of 10 shots from behind the 3-point arc and never trailed in erupting to a 43-16 halftime lead. Sophomore swingman Austin Freeman led the barrage, drilling his first five attempts from 3-point range to break out of a shooting slump en route to a team-high 17 points.

Freeman entered the game shooting just 25 percent from 3-point range (8-for-24) but raised his average more than 10 percent Tuesday.

“I’m not worried about ‘Free,’ but he is a better shooter than he showed in games thus far,” Thompson said. “They were the right kind of 3s for the most part - off of skip passes and the ball coming back out after getting inside touches.”

After a successful preleague campaign that saw the Hoyas drop just one game - to then No. 12 Tennessee at the Old Spice Classic (90-78) - Georgetown sets its sights on Connecticut, the preseason favorite to dethrone the Hoyas and claim the Big East crown.

“They are a terrific team,” Thompson said. “It’s easy to talk about [Connecticut junior center Hasheem] Thabeet because he’s so imposing, but they have a real presence at almost every position.”

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