It's tough to beat any team three times in a season, let alone one as talented as the Hoyas. Georgetown was finally able to figure out the 2-3 zone as it took them playing their best game of the season to take down the Orange, 91-84.
The loss probably won't cost Syracuse a No. 1 seed in the tournament but what looked to be a serious injury to Arinze Onuaku could derail their national title hopes. With five minutes remaining, Onuaku contested a Greg Monroe shot and their knees collided. Onuaku went down awkwardly then writhed in pain on the ground. For a team that rarely plays more than seven people, this is obviously a huge injury. Now Rick Jackson is the only seasoned big man they have. With him and Onuaku, Syracuse had been able to rotate the two in and out to get them rest but more importantly avoid foul trouble. If Jackson is the only one patrolling the paint, not only will he get fatigued but teams would surely attack him and try and get him in early foul trouble. Onuaku's mom has tweeted that X-rays are negative and he'll be fine but he will still have to undergo an MRI to know the true severity of the injury. Now back to the game...
Greg Monroe traveled on their first possession but that was one of the few mistakes he made all game. He caught it in the high post and distributed to the tune of 7 assists. He also had 15 points and 10 rebounds and could've easily had a triple-double if the Hoyas had converted on a few more of his passes.
As great as he was on offense, it was his defense that really stifled Syracuse. Onuaku and Jackson combined to go 3 for 8 for 7 points and 7 rebounds. The two were averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds. Syracuse eventually stopped looking inside since neither could do much of anything against Monroe. It took until six minutes remaining in the first half for either big man to score a bucket.
But as well as Monroe played in the first half, Syracuse still had a 40-37 lead at the break. Wesley Johnson and Scoop Jardine led the Orange in the first half. Johnson's hand didn't seem to be a problem as he had 12 at the break and finished hitting 10 of 17 shots for 24 points. That's his highest point total since the end of November and the first time shooting over 50 percent since Syracuse beat Georgetown at home at the end of January. Jardine added 10 points in the first half on 4 of 6 shooting. He has become confident as both a slasher and a shooter. He knocked down a couple of jumpers and went to the rim for his other 2 field goals.
Syracuse shot 62 percent in the first half but only led by three. Why? Turnovers. They turned it over 11 times and it resulted in 13 points for the Hoyas. One thing though that some don't realize is it's because of the turnovers that Syracuse can shoot such a high percentage. Syracuse takes chances. When they work they get easy baskets. When they don't it results in a turnover. So sometimes I think their problems with turnovers is slightly overstated. Having said that, it was definitely a problem against the Hoyas.
As much as Andy Rautins is supposedly the glue guy for this team and the one that keeps everyone level - he sure goes through some huge swings. He either has amazing plays or plays that kill Syracuse. With 15:15 remaining in the second half he threw a pass from the right side of the key all the way through the paint to the left side of the bucket. It went by about three Hoya defenders and Jackson caught it and dunked it. It was horrendously stupid - but it worked. But not everything worked for Andy. He did have 10 assists but he also turned it over 5 times. He had 8 points in the first 6 minutes of the second half as Syracuse built a 57-48 lead. He had scored or assisted on all of their buckets until that point but he was held scoreless for the rest of the half and Georgetown went on a 23-4 run.
Every single player for Georgetown played a great game. Chris Wright had one of his best games of the season. He hit 10 of 16 and had a game-high 27 points, Jason Clark hit 6 of 11 for 17 points, and Austin Freeman went 7 of 14 for 18 points. What was most impressive was how they attacked the zone. They were the first team all year to beat the Orange without scoring much from the perimeter. They hit just 6 of 18 three-pointers but were able to force it inside and not turn the ball over. Their ball movement created a ton of baskets right around the rim. That's the only way a team is going to shoot 69 percent in the second half as the Hoyas did.This win meant a lot more to the Hoyas than the Orange. This will dramatically help the Hoyas' seeding. They are now at worst a five-seed and could potentially move up to a two-seed if they were to win the Big East. The health of Onuaku is now Syracuse's primary concern as they will await an MRI test tomorrow. So far, all the news has been good regarding the injury but we'll have to wait for the official results.