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Georgetown and Syracuse reignite their rivalry on Saturday

Patrick Ewing is back at the Carrier Dome for the first time as a head coach.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgetown Art Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or stream

When: Saturday, Dec. 8

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Stream: WatchESPN

Series History: 94th meeting. Syracuse leads, 50-43.

Last Meeting: Syracuse defeated Georgetown at Capital One Arena, 86-79.


Preview

Patrick Ewing will lead his Georgetown Hoyas (7-1) to New York on Saturday afternoon for a date with Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange (6-2). Ewing and Boeheim last squared off in the Carrier Dome on Jan. 28, 1985, when the No. 11 Orange defeated the No. 1 Hoyas, 65-63.

The Georgetown offense has fired on all cylinders recently, scoring at least 88 points in the team’s last three outings. That scoring outburst has come from a variety of sources, as a different player has led the team in scoring in each game over that stretch. Trey Mourning scored a career-high 27 points against Campbell, while Jessie Govan and James Akinjo each tallied season-highs with 29 points against Richmond and 19 points against Liberty, respectively.

This offensive spark has come despite struggles from Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair, All-Big East Freshman Team selections and key offensive contributors a season ago. Pickett, who started 28-of-30 games as a freshman and the first seven games of this season, was benched on Monday night against Liberty after having scored just 15 points in his previous five games. Greg Malinowski started in his place, but Pickett turned in arguably his strongest performance of the season in 28 minutes off the bench, scoring nine points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists. Blair, on the other hand, did not play against Richmond (coach’s decision). But he responded with a nine-point effort against Liberty, including 2-for-2 three-point shooting, which may bode well moving forward.

Defensively, however, the Hoyas have been lackluster. They’ve surrendered 82 points per game since returning from the Jamaica Classic, including 45 points to Campbell’s Chris Clemons. Interestingly, Georgetown’s greatest defensive struggles have come when they’ve enjoyed their largest leads. After the Hoyas’ Nov. 28th game against Richmond, Coach Ewing stated he would like to see his team’s defensive effort improve, especially when playing with leads, as he has felt they’ve relaxed too early in blowout games this season.

Those defensive issues will have to improve if the Hoyas hope to contain Tyus Battle, who scored 29 points in last year’s meeting. Battle (17 points), Oshae Brissett (16 points) and Elijah Hughes (14.1 points) provide a potent three-man attack for Syracuse, though the team collectively struggles to shoot the ball. Through eight games, Boeheim’s battalion averages 41 percent field goals and just 29 percent on three-point attempts.

This game will feature a battle in styles, as Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone will attempt to slow down the fast-paced Georgetown offense, spearheaded by the Akinjo-Ewing pick-and-roll. However, the Hoyas are yet to see a zone defense such as Boeheim’s, and they’ll have to look for alternative sets to break it down. Akinjo is joined in the backcourt by fellow freshman Mac McClung, and the pair will need to learn the intricacies of the zone quickly if Georgetown is to have a chance. Georgetown’s lone loss this season came when Akinjo committed six turnovers against Loyola Marymount in the Jamaica Classic.

This is the final matchup in the four-year deal agreed upon by both programs some time ago. Georgetown won the first two meetings in 2015 and 2016, but Syracuse got its revenge in overtime last season.

Oh, and if you’re looking to kill time before the game tips off, you can watch the aforementioned 1985 thriller here.