No. 2 seed in Big East now in reach for Hoyas with victory over Golden Eagles
Georgetown has spent much of the second half of the season trying to rediscover the momentum it had when it last met Marquette. A victory in the teams' regular-season finale would mean the Hoyas finally regained those heights.
"If you told people we were going to be sitting in this position five months ago, I don't think anybody would've said anything close to this," Hoyas sophomore forward Nate Lubick said. "For it all to unfold like this, to be able to control our own destiny in terms of where we finish in the Big East ... I think we're in a great position."
Even coach John Thompson III had to admit he took a peek at the standings. A win for the Hoyas (22-6, 12-5 Big East) on Saturday would leapfrog them past the Golden Eagles (24-6, 13-4) for the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament. A loss? Thompson prefers not to think about it, but it could cost Georgetown a precious double-bye into the conference quarterfinals.
|No. 11 Georgetown at No. 8 Marquette|
|When » Saturday, 2 p.m.|
|Where » Bradley Center,|
|TV » MASN|
"I spend most of the year not thinking about it, [repeating] 'Prepare for the next game.'?" Thompson said. "Here at the end of the road, I kind of take a peek and see what the scenarios are, and the end result is the same: You've got to win your next game."
In their first encounter of the year with the Golden Eagles on Jan. 4, the Hoyas erased a 17-point deficit with lockdown defense and incredible second-half shooting (16-for-21, 76 percent) to give themselves a 73-70 victory and their 11th win in a row, their longest streak since the 2006-07 season, which ended in the Final Four.
Georgetown lost its next two games and hasn't been able to string together more than three wins since.
Riding Darius Johnson-Odom (18.7 points per game) and Jae Crowder (17.4 points, 7.4 rebounds per game), Marquette had bounced back, winning 12 of 14 games before an ugly 72-61 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Both Thompson and Eagles coach Buzz Williams remain top contenders for Big East coach of the year, even if Thompson has some curious methods.
Georgetown sophomore guard Markel Starks was benched for the Hoyas' win over Villanova last weekend and lost his starting spot to Otto Porter in Monday's victory over Notre Dame.
"Coach and I are fine," said Starks, whose only other missed start was because of illness. "It wasn't any punishment. It wasn't anything. Coach plays who he wants to play. He wanted to go with a different lineup, and it's working."
While the offense was indeed clicking down the stretch against Marquette in January, the defense has set the tone lately as the Hoyas prepare for the postseason, holding their last two opponents to a combined 31 percent (30-for-98) shooting from the field and 21 percent (6-for-29) from 3-point range.
"We see that so much of our offense can come from our defense, not even just in terms of the other team turning the ball over," Lubick said. "We've been frustrating the hell out of people on the defensive end of the floor, and it's been pretty rewarding."