Hoya Paranoia: A Trip to the Georgetown-Syracuse Big East finale

Markel Starks

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.



  1. Good stuff. Doesn’t seem right that this rivalry will come to an end. Kinda like the Md-Duke rivalry ending. Casualties of conference shake ups.

    Glad to hear Michael Graham was there. What a season he had back in 84. Any idea what he’s up to these days?