Jon Teitel attended the Georgetown-Syracuse game on Saturday at the Verizon Center, in Washington, DC. He saw a couple of Hall of Famers, the ESPN College Gameday crew, and the worst offensive performance by the Orange in the past half-century. Enjoy the slideshow of photos from the game, as well as his recap below:
There were lots of legends on hand for the final Big East game between these 2 long-time rivals before Syracuse heads to the ACC next season: Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, 7-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, 1984 NCAA champion Michael Graham, 1st-round draft pick Harvey Grant (to see his son Jerami play for the Orange), etc. By the time I arrived at 9:30AM the student sections behind each basket were completely filled in anticipation of the live 10AM College Gameday show. The students treated Rece/Jalen/Digger/Jay like movie stars: asking for autographs, screaming their names, etc.
The game got underway with a gray-out downstairs and a sea of Orange fans in the upper deck. In fact, the attendance of 20,972 set a record as the largest crowd ever in DC for an indoor sporting event (sorry Wizards/Caps fans). The 2 loudest roars were for Otto Porter Jr.’s introduction (his last ever in front of the home fans if he decides to turn pro this spring) as well as a pre-game video with some encouraging words from former Hoya Greg Monroe. Many fans came dressed to impress the cameramen: there were Teletubbies, superheroes, and a group of woman in Georgetown-themed pajamas. There was a nice moment when Boeheim and Thompson came together for a few minutes during shootaround to talk about all the legendary battles they had from opposite ends of the same sideline decades ago.
Cold shooting by both teams (combined 3-15 FG to start) resulted in a 6-3 score through the first six minutes. I assumed that Porter would have another big day after scoring a career-high 33 points in a win at the Carrier Dome only two weeks earlier, but he picked up his first foul 21 seconds into the game and did not score at all until a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left in the half.
Rakeem Christmas displayed the full arsenal for Syracuse in the first half: a nice rebound/put-back, another offensive rebound, a block to thwart a Georgetown fast-break, and even a nice move down in the post for a basket before picking up his second foul. Michael Carter-Williams was the fastest player on the court: a nice drive andlayup, a steal, layup (and one), and then a pull-up jumper.
The stars of the 1st half were Georgetown’s starting guard Markel Starks and back-up guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Starks made a pair of three pointers, had steals on back-to-back possessions, and made a nice save on a ball that was heading out of bounds. Only a freshman, Smith-Rivera showed maturity beyond his years by making 3-5 from beyond the arc and equaling Starks with a trio of steals as well.
It was a seven-point game at halftime but spiraled into a blowout midway through the second half. Starks made a couple more three point shots to finish with a game-high 19 points. Porter started looking to score more and ended up in double-digits by continuing to receive passes at the free throw line and make several turnaround jumpers to beat Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone from the inside. Syracuse finished 1-11 from beyond the arc, and seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland closed out their careers by combining for three points on 1-17 field goals in their final regular season game. Carter-Williams was the only reason that Syracuse fans did not leave earlier, he made a leaner off the glass from a tough angle, a steal anddunk, and a pair of jumpers. The Orange bench was totally irrelevant: five subs, 40 combined minutes, 0-4 field goals, five fouls, two points.
Georgetown president John DeGioia presented an award to Ewing at center court during a timeout that brought another huge cheer from the crowd, and as Ewing walked off the court he stopped and gave a salute to his old college coach. In an effort to kick their opponents on the way out the door, the crowd even started up a brief “ACC” cheer. Syracuse entered the game scoring over 73 points per contest, but finished the afternoon with a measly 39 points, which is the fewest they have scored in over 50 years.
As the clock struck zero the Georgetown fans stormed the court to celebrate winning a share of the Big East title while the ESPN crew rushed to the airport to head to Chapel Hill for the Duke-North Carolina game later that evening. After security took several minutes to usher the fans off the court, the Hoyas finally hoisted the championship trophy and then grabbed a ladder and scissors to cut down 1 of the nets.
Coach John Thompson III was all smiles and got a big hug from his famous father on the way back to the locker room. It was not a day of competitive basketball for the most part, but it turned into a night of celebration for all Hoya fans and served notice to the country that JT3 has his team ready to keep winning games in March.