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Second Half Rally Lifts No. 9 Hoyas

by Bobby Bancroft
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Marquette v Georgetown
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The ninth-ranked Georgetown Hoyas equaled the longest winning streak in Coach John Thompson III’s tenure by defeating twentieth-ranked Marquette 73-70 on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.

But it wasn’t easy.

After what Coach Thompson III called a “borderline embarrassing” half of basketball, Georgetown (13-1, 3-0) trailed Marquette 43-29 at the break.

Despite shooting 50 percent from the floor the Hoyas experienced their largest halftime deficit of the season thanks to some sloppy play.

Georgetown, which averages 11.8 turnovers per game, committed 12 turnovers, many of which were unforced,  in the first 20 minutes and was outscored 8-0 in fast break points.

Marquette took their largest lead of the game at 17 after Todd Mayo’s third three-pointer of the game made the score 56-39 with 13:13 remaining before the Hoyas eventually rallied behind the offense of their veterans and the defense of their newcomers.

Georgetown’s eleven-game winning streak is the longest since the 2006-2007 season when the Hoyas ultimately ended up in the Final Four in Atlanta.

Jason Clark, who had a game-high 26 points, got things started early in the second half by attacking the basket but it was Georgetown’s defense that Coach Thompson III felt was the difference.

And it was the defense of four freshman and the senior Clark.

“It was Jabril [Trawick], Jason, Greg [Whittington], Otto [Porter], and Mikael [Hopkins],” Thompson III said.   “That was the group that got us jump started, and we just guarded.  That’s what’s going to win games in this conference.  You have to get stops.”

While Porter (eight points, three assists) receives consistent playing time as the Georgetown’s sixth-man, extended, crucial minutes for Whittington, Trawick, and especially Hopkins are anything but guaranteed on a nightly basis in their freshmen seasons.

Darius Johnson-Odom led Marquette (12-3, 1-1) with 18 points but was held to just five points on 1-of-6 shooting in the second half with the likes of Whittington, Trawick, and Clark switching off on him all over the court.

Henry Sims came back into the game after the lead had by cut to 62-50 and immediately made an impact.

Sims, who had all four of his turnovers in the first half, hit back-to-back free throws and then assisted on a Porter layup to cut the margin to 62-55.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown’s second leading scorer on the season, sat for nearly eight minutes in the second half before providing the finishing touches on the comeback.

Thompson’s three-pointer to cut the lead to 66-64 brought all 11,213 fans in attendance to their feet.  On the next possession he tied the score for the first time since it was 22-22 midway through the first half.

Sims gave Georgetown their first lead in over 30 minutes of game-time at 68-66 with 2:10 remaining before Marquette answered with a Davante Gardner layup.

The last of Thompson’s heroics would come on another three-pointer, his third shot in the final 3:21, to break a 70-all tie with just 24 seconds remaining in what turned out to be a Big East instant-classic.

Georgetown committed only five second half turnovers and finished with more assists (18) than turnovers (17) for the game.  Those assists were evident on the final shooting numbers as the Hoyas shot 63 percent (27-of-43) for the game including an unreal 76 percent (16-of-21) in the second half.

Thompson finished with 16 points highlighted by 4-of-5 shooting from deep while Sims was the third Hoya in double-figures with 13 points.  Sims also led the Hoyas with a team-high five assists.

The four Hoyas freshman that sparked the comeback finished with a combined 16 points and four steals.

When asked about the difference between halves, Clark agreed with his coach.

“I guess we just felt like we were being embarrassed,” Clark said.  “In the second half we just wanted to turn it up defensively and our defense turned into our offense.”

Up Next:  Georgetown travels to Morgantown on Saturday for their only meeting of the season against West Virginia (11-4, 2-1).  The Mountaineers beat the Hoyas 66-59 last season at the Verizon Center.

Hoyas Notes:  By entering this week’s AP Top 10 at No. 9, Georgetown is one of just four schools to spend at least one week ranked that high in each of the last six seasons.  The only other schools to join them are Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Markel Starks was involved in a big collision with Marquette’s Jamil Wilson going for an offensive rebound and never appeared the same afterwards.  Georgetown’s starting point guard was held scoreless for the first time all season in just 17 minutes, most of which came in the first half.

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