Big East Baller Update No. 9: Georgetown Recognition Week 

UConn men’s basketball suffer a 85-74 loss against St. Johns at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. following a noon matchup on Sunday, Jan, 15. In front of a sold-out crowd, the Huskies added another defeat to their record. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/Daily Campus.

In the 1980s, the Georgetown Hoyas were a powerhouse in the young but potent Big East conference. Led by Hall of Fame head coach John Thompson Jr., almost no one could stop the Hoyas’ annual national title quests. Georgetown won it all in 1984 and nearly ran it back in 1985 before the No. 8 seed Villanova Wildcats foiled their plans. 

The Hoyas treaded water after Thompson resigned in 1999, and even though they went to the Final Four in 2007 as a No. 2 seed, they have fallen on hard times since hiring legendary alum Patrick Ewing as their head coach in 2017. So severe were their losing ways that their Big East Tournament championship in 2021 (as a No. 2 seed) was the last time Georgetown beat a conference foe. What you are about to read is how they won a conference game for the first time in almost two years. 

Writer’s Note: The Hoyas went 0-19 in conference play last season and had lost over 25 straight to Power six opponents dating back to December of 2021. 

Player of the Week

Tyler Kolek – Marquette 

Freshman of the Week

AJ Storr – St. John’s 

Georgetown vs. Villanova (Jan. 16): They almost won 

UConn men’s basketball closed their losing streak with their win against Butler at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. on Jan. 22, 2023. Jordan Hawkins was the highest scorer with 20 points. Photo by Skyler Kim/Daily Campus.

Out of every conference game that Georgetown played between the start of last season and last week, this loss against Villanova was their closest one. 

Down 11 in the first half, the Hoyas made it a two-point game right from the start of the second. Jordan Riley responded to a 5-0 Wildcat run by making three straight buckets and Akok Akok gave Georgetown the lead. That Hoya advantage could not be sustained as two free throws from Eric Dixon gave it back to Villanova. 

Two jumpers from Primo Spears put Georgetown up two, but layups from Brandon Slater and Eric Dixon in the next minute gave the Wildcats a lead they never surrendered. A Cam Whitmore breakaway dunk and a missed three from Brandon Murray in the final 15 seconds sealed the deal, as Villanova avoided the upset 77-73. 

Four of the five Wildcat starters scored in double figures, led by Caleb Daniels’ 16 points while Mark Armstrong had 14 off the bench. Spears led the Hoyas with 19 points on 8-13 shooting while Riley had 18 on 8-12 shooting. Georgetown had a two-point lead against the then eighth-ranked Xavier Musketeers slip away from them in Cincinnati five days later, but then it happened. 

DePaul vs. Georgetown (Jan. 24): They finally won 

After 682 long days, the Hoyas’ 29-game conference losing streak came to an end in Washington DC. Despite the win, the DePaul Blue Demons, who won the first meeting back in December, had the advantage going into the break.  

Following a layup from Javan Johnson, Qudus Wahab and Georgetown went on a 7-0 run that lasted until Yor Anei made a layup nine minutes later. Despite DePaul’s attempt to complete a shocking comeback in the final minute, the Hoyas never relinquished the lead once they took it back, going up 12 before icing the upset at the free throw line in the final seconds 81-76. Georgetown fans in attendance rushed the court in jubilation after the final buzzer, and although it does not change much about the program, it satisfied a lot of people rooting for them to win. 

Spears played all 40 minutes of the Hoyas’ win, scoring 21 points without a three while Murray and Akok had 12 apiece. The Blue Demons got most of their scoring from Umoja Gibson, who had 24, and Johnson, who had 13, despite shooting almost 50% from the field. By securing the win against a Big East foe, Georgetown had already improved from last season’s disaster, but opportunities to win conference games were not gone yet. 

Georgetown vs. St. John’s (Jan. 29): A new streak almost emerges 

1-25-2023 MBB Vs. Xavier by Izzi Barton UConn Men’s Basketball struggles to control the ball as they fall to Xavier 72-89 on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023 in Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies will play their next game against DePaul on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Photo by Izzi Barton/Daily Campus.

The Hoyas had a chance to go on a winning streak in conference play, something they had not achieved since the 2021 Big East Tournament. That winning streak could have started in the same building Bryson Mozone buried a late three, but then AJ Storr hit the game-winning triple with four seconds left. 

Honorable Mention: No. 23 Providence vs. Villanova (Jan. 29): Wait that’s not Georgetown 

The Providence Friars may have entered South Philadelphia with the upper edge, but Justin Moore’s return gave the Wildcats a much-needed boost. 

A 6-0 run following a Cam Whitmore dunk gave the Friars the lead before Mark helped Villanova snatch it back. The Wildcats had a seven-point lead with 10:42 to play, but that is when Jared Bynum started to hit water. Bynum made each of Providence’s next three field goals to retake the lead, and his bucket in the final 30 seconds proved to be the dagger as Villanova came up short 70-65.  

Bynum finished with 19 points off the bench with three treys, while Ed Croswell led all starters with 14 and Bryce Hopkins finished a rebound shy of a double-double. As for the Wildcats, Whitmore shot 50% from the field and downtown with 21 points, while Dixon had 14 and Moore picked up five. Even though they did not come out on top, Moore’s return made Villanova a much stronger team and the conference a whole lot more interesting heading into February. 

Thus concludes a passionate story about how the Hoyas finally won a Big East game. This felt long overdue for Georgetown, a team that has the pieces to win more than once in conference play, but just could not finish the job. The Hoyas still have nine games left, but they can win again before the season is over. 

Regardless of what happens next, the Hoyas will be as tough of an opponent to beat as everyone else in the Big East. Perhaps it could affect the conference standings before the tournament, but even that is a mystery right now. 

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