The most impressive win by any college basketball team this past weekend had to be Georgetown’s 57-46 victory at Syracuse in the Hoyas’ final scheduled visit to the Carrier Dome in that storied Big East rivalry. It was Georgetown’s ninth straight win, covering the spread in all, and ended Syracuse’s national-best 38-game home winning streak.
The Hoyas (21-4, 11-3), who moved to No. 7 from No. 11 in Monday’s AP Poll, now have a one-game lead over Syracuse and Marquette for the Big East regular-season title. Georgetown hasn’t won that since the 2007-08 season.
Georgetown was picked to finish fifth in the Big East preseason poll, but the young Hoyas have grown up faster than anticipated. They start two juniors and three sophomores, and their sixth man, freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
The star is sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., who has played his way into a top-five NBA draft pick should he declare after this season. Porter was dominant against Syracuse. He set career highs in points (33), field-goal attempts (19), field goals made (12), 3-pointers attempted (10) and made (5), and steals (5). Porter’s point total was the most ever by a Hoya against Syracuse. While he shot better than 63 percent from the field, the rest of his teammates were a combined 7-for-35 overall and 2-for-15 from long range.
Porter leads the Hoyas in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounding (7.7), steals (2.0) and 3-point shooting (45.3%). He’s the Big East Player of the Year at this point and is in the conversation for national player of the year with the likes of Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Duke’s Mason Plumlee.
The real star for the Hoyas is their defense. Syracuse’s 46 points were its fewest ever at the Carrier Dome. The Orange scored just 78.0 points per 100 possessions, the team’s worst offensive efficiency in the past four seasons (by contrast, SU averages 109.6 points per 100 possessions this season overall). Georgetown allows 88.6 points per 100 possessions, among the best in the nation, and holds opponents to 35 percent shooting from the floor in half-court defense, also among the best. Saturday’s game was the 10th time this year the Hoyas held an opponent under 80.0 points per 100 possessions. Teams are shooting only 37.4 percent from the field overall against Georgetown. In Big East play, Pittsburgh is the only team to score more than 70 points against the Hoyas.
Perhaps more impressive is that Georgetown is 11-1 since arguably its second-best player, Greg Whittington, was declared ineligible for the rest of the season. He led the team in minutes per game and was second in scoring and rebounding when suspended. Georgetown has beaten ranked teams Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse in that run. The loss was a head-scratching 61-58 defeat at South Florida, the Big East’s worst team. Porter was averaging 12.8 points with Whittington active and is scoring 18.9 per game since the suspension, with his overall and 3-point shooting percentages significantly higher. The team as a whole is shooting better and scoring around 3.0 more points per game.
Oddsmakers still aren’t high on the Hoyas’ national title hopes. They are 22-1 at Bovada to win it all. Ten schools have shorter odds, including Syracuse (20-1). Georgetown has a tough test Wednesday at Connecticut, which will have live play-by-play betting at the book. UConn is 13-2 at home and this will be the team’s biggest remaining home game of the season. Georgetown then closes the week with what should be an easy test at home against Rutgers on Saturday.