Reporting Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON — With a seven-game winning streak in tow and a weekend match up against Syracuse looming for the top spot in the Big East, it would have been natural for Georgetown players to be looking a bit past its opponent on Wednesday night.
And, honestly, it would been hard to blame them.
DePaul is about as far away from national prominence as a school can get despite being in one of the top six conferences. The Blue Demons came to the Verizon Center as winners of just three of their last 42 league road games over the past five seasons.
Already the owners of a bad loss in the form of South Florida, No. 11 Georgetown didn’t fall victim to another trap game by making easy work of DePaul, 90-66 to move back into a first-place tie with Marquette and Syracuse.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who has seen his playing time increase since Greg Whittington became ineligible, scored 33 points to establish a new freshman high since John Thompson III took over the program in 2004 and the most since any freshman in 17 seasons.
Victor Page went for 34 in the 1996 Big East Tournament which, according to Georgetown officials, is the most by any freshmen in Hoyas history.
Smith-Rivera was efficient from every spot on the court in going 10-of-12 from the field, 8-of-10 from the line, and made 5-of-6 three-pointers as Georgetown improved to 20-4, 10-3.
“I think it’s a comfort level,” Thompson III said in an effort to explain the offensive explosion from his first year guard.
“He’s a freshman. Everyone wants to come in right from day one blazing and it’s taking him time to settle in, but he’s getting comfortable out there with what we’re doing.”
Ironically enough, Smith-Rivera’s previous high (19 points) actually did come on day one against Duquesne. And they came in similar circumstances, in the absence of the star.
With Big East Player of the Year candidate Otto Porter Jr ailing after banging his right knee, DePaul (11-15, 2-11) kept things interesting in the first half after Durrell McDonald’s three-pointer cut the Hoyas lead to just 28-25 with 5:59 remaining.
Georgetown finished the half on a 15-4 run to take a 43-29 lead into the break, basically ending any chance of the rarest of rare, a DePaul road win.
Porter Jr finished the game with 11 points in just 20 minutes. The sophomore forward came out in the second half with a sleeve on his right knee and tried to give it a go but came out the game for good with 17:18 remaining and the Hoyas up 48-35.
Brandon Young led DePaul with 16 points, the only Blue Demon in double figures.
For the game the Hoyas shot 63.5 percent (33-of-52) from the floor, a stat DePaul coach Oliver Purnell felt was virtually impossible to overcome for any team trying to upset Georgetown. Under Thompson III, he was basically correct.
Georgetown improved to 15-2 in games in which they shoot at least 60 percent from the field since 2004.
During the current eight game winning streak, Smith-Rivera’s outburst is just another in a long line of unpredictable contributions that has pushed the Hoyas once again up the national rankings.
It was the most by an Hoya since Austin Freeman’s 33 points against Connecticut in 2010, just one less than the all-time high under Thompson III that Chris Wright poured in against Harvard in 2009 (34 points).
Notes: Georgetown’s 41 first half points were the most in any game this season, as were the 90 for the game. Smith-Rivera is one of five different players to score at least 30 points under Thompson III. The previous four were Wright, Freeman (four times), Jason Clark, and Jeff Green. Georgetown moved to 8-0 against the Blue Demons in Big East play. DePaul has now lost 40 straight games to ranked opponents.
Up Next: Georgetown visits the Carrier Dome for perhaps the last time for the foreseeable future as Syracuse departs for the ACC over the summer. Orange officials have already announced a sellout crowd of 35,012 will be on hand for the 4 PM Saturday tip that will likely go a long way towards determining the regular season champion.