- - Saturday, January 21, 2012

During his brief time at Georgetown, freshman forward Otto Porter has proven to be a placid sort, with the kind of quiet demeanor that befits his nature as the small-town kid placed on the large stage of Big East basketball.

So, with the Hoyas immersed in a dogfight Saturday against Rutgers, the clock slowly spiraling toward a stunning upset and a lid on the basket, it was Porter who calmly stepped into the breach and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Porter scored the last six points of the game as the No. 10 Hoyas closed on a 7-0 run over the final 2:33 to overcome a miserable shooting performance and earn a 52-50 decision over the Scarlet Knights for their third straight win.

With the game tied at 50 and the Hoyas angling for the final shot, Porter was fouled by Rutgers‘ Mike Poole with 8.5 seconds remaining, putting the freshman on the line in a game-winning situation. If it bothered him, you wouldn’t know it.

“I was just thinking, ‘Hit the free throws,’ ” Porter said. “That’s all.”

Porter drained both free throws, the Hoyas (16-3, 6-2 Big East) defended a desperation drive by Rutgers‘ Eli Carter and for Porter, it was just another day at the office.

“He is so composed,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of his freshman phenom. “He just plays the game and doesn’t get rattled.”

On this day, Porter was joined by fellow freshman Greg Whittington, who has seen his role slowly increase during conference play as Thompson III takes advantage of his height and versatility.

With his teammates struggling to hit the broad side of a barn, Whittington stepped up midway through the second half, rattling off seven straight points, including a 3-pointer, to help Georgetown equal the score at 38-38.

“I was just doing the things I know I can do,” the freshman from Columbia, Md., said. “Coach said be aggressive and play hard defense. I just played defense, and it gave me confidence to make the shots.”

For Thompson III, the play of Porter and Whittington, along with his other young guys, have made him forget about class designations.

“At this point in the year, we’re not thinking of anybody as a freshman,” Thompson III said. “They’ve been through too much, played too many games and have been too important for us to be talking about freshmen.”

The contributions of Porter and Whittington were highlighted in the garish box score from Saturday’s contest, where they led the team with three field goals made apiece. The Hoyas shot a nightmarish 12-for-41, and that includes a 9-for-18 second half.

Georgetown was an incomprehensible 3 of 23 in the first half, as all manner of shots — from 3-pointers to lay-ups — failed to fall through.

“I didn’t look at that box score at halftime,” Thompson III said. “I told these guys, and I told them at what seemed like every time out in the first half, sometimes you’re having a bad offensive day, and it’s because the other team is disrupting you, and you can’t get into a flow.

“I thought today, and this is maybe the second time this year, that there was a lid on the basket. We were getting the ball in the post and missing lay-ups, we were getting the wide open mid-range shots that we wanted, but the ball just wasn’t going in.”

The beauty of this team is that it hardly seems to matter.

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