For a Georgetown-Syracuse series that faces an uncertain future on the court, it seemed only fitting that their only scheduled meeting of the season would result in an absolute thriller.
In fact, the longtime Big East rivals gave the crowd of 27,820 in attendance at the Carrier Dome five extra minutes in the form of overtime before second-ranked Syracuse eventually outlasted 12th -ranked Georgetown 64-61 on Wednesday night thanks to a Kris Joseph three-pointer with 29 seconds remaining.
Georgetown (18-5, 8-4) had one last chance to tie the game but Jason Clark (12 points) turned the ball over giving Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim his 880th career win to break a third-place tie with former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith on the all-time Division 1 wins list.
The loss drops Georgetown down into fourth-place, a half-game behind Notre Dame who has played one less game. There are currently six teams bunched together with either three or four conference losses.
Syracuse remains all alone in first place, two games clear of Marquette.
Joseph led the Orange (24-1, 11-1) with a career-night by scoring 29 points, highlighted by six three-pointers. Ironically enough the senior forward had been in the midst of a seven game shooting slump by hitting just three of his previous 27 long range attempts.
That, of course, is ancient history.
“I’ve shot that shot many times in practice and in games,” Joseph said about his game-winner in the post game press conference.
“I was in rhythm and I knocked it down.”
Joseph’s shot broke the 15th tie of the night in what looked like a defensive breakdown for a Hoyas team that played solid defense for the majority of the game in limiting Syracuse to 34 percent shooting and just six fast break points.
When asked if there was some sort of breakdown on that final shot, Coach Thompson III quickly responded, “It clearly was.”
Otto Porter (14 points, 13 rebounds) kept Georgetown in the game with the third double-double of his young career on a night when the Hoyas outrebounded Syracuse 52-35.
“Otto did what Otto does,” Thompson III said when describing the play of his talented freshman.
“Otto plays the game. He doesn’t limit himself to worrying about scoring or shots…every part of the game he takes he pride in. Every part of the game is important to him and it shows up every night.”
Syracuse took its largest lead of the game at 54-48 after yet another Joseph three-pointer with 4:37 remaining but failed to record another field goal in regulation.
Clark responded for Georgetown with two deep three-pointers after sitting out long stretches of the second half with foul trouble.
Greg Whittington (three points, four assists), who established a career-high with 29 minutes, tied the game with a minute remaining when he split a pair of free throws but he rebounded his own miss giving the Hoyas a chance to end it in regulation.
The Hoyas found the holes inside the zone by getting the ball to Henry Sims (six points, eight rebounds) but the senior center had his shot blocked by Syracuse 7-footer Fab Melo (eleven points, seven rebounds, six blocks) who terrorized Georgetown all night.
It was nothing new as Sims had a night he will be eager to forget by going just 1-of-12 from the field.
“He missed a bunch of layups and the ball just wouldn’t go in,” Thompson III said about his big man.
“It happens sometimes.”
But it wasn’t just Sims as his low post running mate Mikael Hopkins was just 1-of-8 with almost all of those coming close in around the basket.
Dion Waiters missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the game headed to overtime.
What would a proper rivalry game between two bitter rivals be without a little bit of controversy sprinkled in at some point?
Down 64-61 after Joseph’s late three, Georgetown called timeout to draw up a last second shot and presumably get Hollis Thompson back in the game.
Thompson is the leading three-point shooter percentage wise in the Big East and had previously hit game-winning three-pointers at Alabama and against Marquette.
There was some confusion at the scorer’s table as to when Thompson tried to check in and he was ruled to have been too late to sub in the game.
“I shouldn’t comment on Hollis not being able to get in,” Thompson III said when asked what really happened after the game.
So was this the last Georgetown-Syracuse game?
Said Coach Thompson III: “Do I like this series; has this series been important to Georgetown? Yes. Has it been important to Syracuse? Yes. Has it been important to our conference? Yes. But they are leaving, so now we will see.”
Georgetown fell to 0-5 in overtime games in the Carrier Dome. Coach Thompson III has been at the helm for the last three of those contests.
Up Next: Georgetown returns home to take on St. John’s (10-14, 4-8) on Sunday at 1pm. The Hoyas defeated the Red Storm 64-49 on January 15th at Madison Square Garden.