Over the closing minutes of Thursday night’s game, Georgetown Hoyas head coach Patrick Ewing raised his arms in the air and incited the crowd, with the Hoya faithful taking the coach’s cue and making plenty of noise.
Ewing felt victory within his Hoyas’ sights, and he knew how big the game was. The last time they were at Madison Square Garden, they were on the wrong end of a historic Big East Tournament performance by Myles Powell and the Seton Hall Pirates. This time around, it was a much more positive feeling for the Hoyas.
After a close back-and-forth matchup for most of the game, Georgetown was able to pull away in the second half and down the No. 22 Texas Longhorns, 82-66.
”Felt like I was back in my Knick days,” Ewing said, laughing.
With the game tied at 52, Georgetown was able to rattle off a 10-0 run to gain some separation, a scoring spree topped off by a Josh LeBlanc layup with 9:49 remaining.
Texas desperately tried to cut into the deficit, but the Longhorns could never get it down to fewer than eight points.
Georgetown tightened up defensively down the stretch, as the Longhorns struggled to make a shot over the final five minutes of play. In the meantime, the Hoyas continued to pad their lead and put the game out of reach.
”We did a much better job guarding the ball individually,” Ewing said. “First half, we were letting them beat us. we were sucking in and they were knocking down their threes. In the second half, we did a much better job of guarding our guys, so that even when they penetrate we were able to cut them off. Our bigs came in and contested shots. When they got the ball at three-point line, we made them take tough shots.”
Four Hoyas scored in double figures, with Mac McClung leading the way with 19 points. Jamarko Pickett added 15 points and five rebounds. James Akinjo had 14 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Omer Yurtseven had 10 points, four blocks, and a pair of blocks.
Matt Coleman III led the Longhorns with a game-high 21 points. He was 7-of-11 overall, including a perfect 6-for-6 from long range.
Georgetown will play the winner of No. 1 Duke Blue Devils and California Golden Bears on Friday. The championship game is slated to tip-off at 7 p.m. ET.
”Whoever we play against, we have to bring our A-game,” Ewing said. “Doesn’t make a difference. I was fortunate enough to get a win tonight against a great Texas team. They’re well coached. Great players. Whoever is there, that’s who we have to play, we have to make sure we are ready.”
Here are three takeaways from the Georgetown-Texas game:
Top 25 win
It’s no secret that this is a valuable early-season win for the Hoyas. Not only is Texas ranked, but this is a potential tournament-type of team, especially as it hopes to return to the field of 68 after winning the NIT last year.
Although Georgetown entered 3-1, with wins over Mount St. Mary’s, Central Arkansas, and Georgia State, it didn’t look too impressive overall throughout those victories. The Hoyas needed a strong second half comeback to beat the Mountaineers in the season-opener, and then the games against Central Arkansas and Georgia State were a bit closer than desired at times. As for Georgetown’s one loss, against Penn State, the Hoyas lost by 15.
This could potentially be a big win for the Hoyas to build off of moving forward.
”I thought today, we took a step forward, because it wasn’t just individuals,” Ewing said. “It was more of a team tonight than we had been in the past. Mac had 19 points, but it wasn’t just him. Jamorko scored, James scored, everyone played and did something to help us win.”
And you, Qudus?
With top scorer and rebounder Omer Yurtseven dealing with foul trouble for practically most of the game, Georgetown turned to 6-foot-11 freshman Qudus Wahab to step up and fill in. Wahab certainly answered the call.
Yurtseven, while effective when on the floor, couldn’t stay on for long periods of time, as fouls hampered him. He looked good in his limited minutes, providing 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just 12 minutes of action. However, Wahab might have just given Ewing a reason to give him more minutes moving forward. Wahab averaged just 12.5 minutes and 2.8 points entering Thursday night. Against, the Longhorns, he had pivotal minutes during the game-changing 10-0 second half run that gave Georgetown the lead. He made a couple buckets during that stretch and had a huge rejection on defense. He finished with nine points, three offensive boards and two blocks through a season-high 21 minutes of play.
Patrick, with Omer dealing with foul trouble throughout the game, how big was the spark from Qudus coming off the bench, especially during that game-changing run in the second half.
”He played great,” Ewing said. “When he went in, I told him look, you’re not a freshman any more. You just gotta step up and play, energy and effort. Set a screen and roll, when you get a your post up, take your post up. Take your shots and make your free throws.”
Texas-Sized Step Forward
It was a disappointing loss for Texas, who got outplayed in the second half and went the final five minutes without a single made shot.
In the loss, Coleman truly shined for the Longhorns. He was the only Texas player to score in double figures, and he consistently made the big shot, until the closing stretch where he arguably could have gotten the ball more to climb back into the game. He was 3-for-6 in the second half, while the rest of the team went 3-of-21.
If Coleman continues to play at this level, this could be a huge season for him. Last season, he averaged below 10 points per game. Over the his first two seasons, he shot approximately 30.8 percent from beyond the arc, an area of his game that looks improved so far.
While he’s played and started since his freshman season, he was in the shadow of other players. It looks like he can score with the best of them and also give Texas a much-needed three-point shooting threat when he’s on.