Georgetown-Syracuse preview: the final countdown

Georgetown-Syracuse preview: the final countdown
March 8, 2013, 10:15 pm
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No. 5 Georgetown (23-5, 13-4 Big East) vs No. 17 Syracuse (23-7, 11-6), noon at the Verizon Center

At stake: Oh, not much for the Hoyas, other than the Big East regular season title, the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and winning the final regular season matchup against their fiercest rival. Despite Wednesday's loss, Georgetown remains atop the standings, now tied with No. 8 Louisville and No. 15 Marquette. The Hoyas can still win a share of their first Big East crown since the 2007-08 season with a victory over the Orange. And yes, there is the whole end of an era thing with Syracuse, which is no mere subplot.

They said it: "I do think that it is very fitting, just when you look at what the two program have meant to each other and to the Big East, it is fitting that on the last time we play as conference members it's for something." -- Georgetown coach John Thompson III

Last time out: The Hoyas 11-game winning streak ended Wednesday in Villanova, 67-57, thanks to a season-high 23 turnovers and being outscored 30-4 at the free throw line. Despite constant foul trouble and miscues -- some self-inflicted, some aided by a handsy Wildcat defense -- Georgetown trailed 56-52 with 2:50 left, but Villanova made 11 of 12 free throws in the final minutes. Otto Porter led the Hoyas with 17 points.

They said, part 2: "I know we had 23 turnovers. They had a lot of offensive rebounds. That alone can cost you to lose games. I think it was just more of a humbling experience, a reminder that we can't get ahead of ourselves. We ended up winning 11 straight and I think we got complacent with that. Tomorrow will be another tough game. We're looking forward to it." - freshman guard D'Vauntes Smith who scored 14 points in the loss at Villanova.

When last we met: From their perspective, the Hoyas closed the Carrier Dome on Feb. 23 with a 57-46 Porter-fueled win. The sophomore forward's instant classic performance consisted of 33 points, 8 rebounds, five assists while draining 5 of 10 from the beyond the 3-point arc -- and silencing the over 35,000 Orange-crazed fans. Jabril Trawick's penetration and Moses Ayegba's rebounding supported Porter's national coming out party while defensively Georgetown held Syracuse to its second-fewest points ever at the Carrier Dome. Porter made 12 of 19 field goal attempts while his teammates finished 7 of 35 against the Orange's vaunted 2-3 matchup zone.

They said it, part 3: "The one good thing I can say breaking down and analyzing that game is everyone got looks they normally make that they missed. You go back and look at some of the other guys. Bang some of the open looks that they got, you may not need that 33-point effort. We're not going in saying 'let's do the exact same thing. Otto you get 30-plus and everyone else just make a shot here or there.'" - Thompson on the previous Syracuse game leading into Saturday's contest.

The opponent: Losing to Georgetown started Syracuse on a downward spiral, one that saw the Orange also fall to Louisville and Marquette before thumping Big East patsy DePaul on Wednesday. No longer in the regular season title chase, Jim Boeheim's squad can finish as high as a fifth seed for the tournament depending on this weekend's results. C.J. Fair (14.6 ppg) and Brandon Triche (14.3) lead the Orange in scoring while point guard Michael Carter-Williams doles out 7.8 assists per game. The trio combined for 30 points and 10 of Syracuse's 16 turnovers against Georgetown.

Scoreboard watching: Around the time Georgetown and Syracuse should be ending its highly anticipated event, Marquette (22-7, 13-4) tips at St. John's while Louisville (25-5, 13-4) hosts No. 24 Notre Dame at 4 p.m. No matter the results of those games, the Hoyas are the top seed in the Big East Tournament with a win and they cannot drop lower than third. Seeing as St. John's is imploding and Louisville is rolling, Georgetown likely cannot count on help from others.

They said it, part 3: "I got to say this: With a 35,000-plus dome, I think Boeheim probably had a lot easier job accommodating ticket requests than I'm having for tomorrow." - Thompson, referring to the Verizon Center's 20,308 capacity.

Next up: With a win, Georgetown will play at noon on Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament. Beyond that straightforward scenario, we'll just have to see.