- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jonathan Wallace swears nothing has changed.

He promises he is not doing anything differently than he was two weeks ago. He hasn’t shaken up his pregame routine, taken to eating an extra bowl of Wheaties every morning or rubbing a rabbit’s foot for good luck.

He has not altered his shot release. He still launches the ball toward the basket with the same over-the-rainbow trajectory. But one thing has changed over the past few games.

The shots are going in.

Wallace leads 12th-ranked Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) against Cincinnati (13-12, 8-5) today at Verizon Center in the midst of a three-game tear, in which he is shooting 54.5 percent from the field and has connected on 13 of 23 3-point attempts.

He scored a career-high 26 points in the Hoyas’ loss to Syracuse a week ago and spurred a second-half comeback with four 3-pointers in Monday’s 68-58 win at Providence.

“It feels good,” said Wallace, whose 42.9 career 3-point percentage is the best in school history. “I guess it came at the right time. When you find yourself in those [slumping] situations, you just have to keep shooting the ball, and that’s what I did. The shots just started to fall.”

One swish at a time, the senior guard is resurrecting what has for the most part been a disappointing final season.

He was 1-for-7 from 3-point range against Connecticut on Jan. 12, 2-for-7 in a loss to Pitt two days later, then 0-for-3 against Notre Dame the following weekend.

But nothing matched the three-game dry spell in which Wallace had nine consecutive 3-point attempts clank out.

Rock bottom came two weekends ago in Louisville, Ky., when Wallace bricked five 3-pointers in a 59-51 loss to the Cardinals.

“Sometimes the ball falls your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Patrick Ewing Jr. said. “For a couple games there, Jon was struggling.”

The stretch was disheartening for Wallace, who passed Kevin Braswell on Dec. 31 to become Georgetown’s all-time leader in 3-pointers. He lost his identity as the team’s clutch long-range shooter because of the continued improvement of junior Jesse Sapp (43 3-pointers this season) and the emergence of freshman shooting guard Austin Freeman (25).

“When he was going through that stretch, there was never any need for any powwows or therapy sessions,” coach John Thompson III said. “He just needed to keep playing. I told him, ‘You are a good shooter, eventually you will get back to making shots like you did.’

“As someone who has been with him for four years, I know he can put it up whenever he wants. He doesn’t take bad shots.”

Wallace’s personal struggles often reflect the team’s overall shooting performance.

Throughout the season, the Hoyas have seen a frustrating number of their shots rim, rattle and roll out. Such was the case at Providence on Monday, when the Hoyas shot 34.3 percent from the field in the first half and found themselves trailing well into the second.

“There is an angst that builds up in you,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to tell the guys, ‘Hey we’re getting the shots we want, they aren’t going in, they are going to go in.’ ”

As soon as Wallace started connecting against the Friars, his teammates followed suit.

“We needed him a lot in the past couple of games,” Patrick Ewing Jr. said. “He’s stepped up and done what he’s supposed to do and has been knocking them down.”

With Georgetown and Louisville in lockstep down the Big East home stretch, the Hoyas can’t afford to have Wallace go cold again.

Georgetown has never lost to Cincinnati, but a Hoyas misstep coupled with a Cardinals win at Pittsburgh tomorrow would drop them from the conference’s top spot.

The Hoyas haven’t lost at Verizon this season and are riding an 18-game winning streak there.

Wallace said he feeds off the positive energy at home.

“It’s very important,” Wallace said of the Hoyas’ homecourt advantage. “You feel the excitement of the crowd and that momentum behind you. You know the crowd is in your favor, and it helps you relax a little more.”


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