Reporting Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON – The never-know-what-to-expect-from-them Georgetown Hoyas provided yet another surprise in upsetting fifth-ranked Louisville 53-51 in front of a season high 17,474 fans at the Verizon Center on Saturday.
Needing to break a stalemate late in the second half, the Hoyas (14-4, 4-3) got the biggest – and most spectacular – basket of the game from an unlikely source in Aaron Bowen.
Bowen, in his third season at Georgetown, came into Saturday having scored just 47 career points. The basket that moved Bowen up to 49 career points won’t soon be forgotten.
Freshman reserve D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera drove to the basket and missed a tough layup amid a host of Cardinals protecting the rim.
Bowen, as he had almost done previously in the game, came in hard for the offensive rebound and managed to get his hand on the ball for an incredible behind the back, reverse tip in that ultimately fell through the net with a little help from the glass.
With it the Hoyas took a 52-50 lead that they would never give up.
“I told [Coach Thompson III] I’m going to get him one and that’s what happened,” Bowen modestly said about his put back.
Otto Porter Jr led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Markel Starks added 17 points of us his own as Georgetown picked up its second straight ranked win after last weekend’s surprisingly loss at South Florida.
Seemingly never at a loss for words, Starks provided a much more colorful description of his teammate’s winning hoop.
“As soon as we went to the locker room I told him I’ve never seen anything like that,” an animated Starks told the room full of reporters, grabbing the microphone that was in front of Bowen.
“I tell him all the time he’s probably one of the most athletic people on this planet. When the shot went up, he just came out of nowhere, I don’t know, he just tipped it. It was unbelievable. “
Georgetown jumped out to an unbelievable hot start as Porter’s three-pointer put the Hoyas up 24-15 with 10:11 in the first half. The Hoyas started out making nine of their first eleven shots from the field.
Louisville (16-4, 4-3) fought back by hitting all twelve free throw attempts before the break to close to within 33-29.
Due to tough defense, free throws, and perhaps the absence of Louisville All-American candidate Peyton Siva due to foul trouble, the game never really found an offensive flow in the second twenty minutes.
Siva was able to stay in the game until the very end but his missed jumper with six seconds remaining would be Louisville’s final chance at getting in the win column. The senior point guard was held scoreless for the first time since his freshman year.
Louisville, led by George Mason transfer Luke Hancock’s 12 points, has now lost three straight games in the Big East for just the third time since joining in 2005. The Cardinals, a Final Four team from last season, were ranked as high as No. 1 just a week ago.
Always one to focus on the game at hand, rather than looking at the big picture during the season, Thompson III knows Louisville is still going to be a force going forward despite their recent woes.
“Let’s get this straight, that’s a helluva team,” Thompson III said about the Cardinals.
“That’s one of the best teams in the country. I think it speaks to how strong this league is where one of the best teams in the country can lose a couple games in a row and you literally have to play every night or you’re going to lose in this league.”
Georgetown climbed over .500 in the Big East for the first time this season after starting out 0-2 and improved to 4-1 without Greg Whittington available. When asked about Georgetown’s success without its second leading scorer and rebounder, Rick Pitino joked: ”I’m thinking of suspending a player.”
Notes: Georgetown is the only Big East team with a winning record against Louisville in the Big East. The Hoyas have won four straight against the Cardinals and now lead the conference series 6-2. Nate Lubick, the Big East leader in field goal percentage, continued his sweet shooting touch by connecting on all three field goal attempts on Saturday.
Up Next: Georgetown hosts Seton Hall (13-6, 2-4) on Wednesday night in the middle of a three-game home stand. The Hoyas are 22-3 all-time at home against the Pirates.