For Georgetown, the defense doesn't rest

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

Unheralded Hoyas D making great strides

Georgetown coach John Thompson III has lamented this season that sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. has been underappreciated and that the Hoyas defense has gone unnoticed in favor of discussions about the program's Princeton-style offense.

But he can't complain about the team itself being overlooked after his second career road win over Syracuse last weekend vaulted the Hoyas (21-4, 11-3 Big East) into the national top 10. Georgetown is one of just four teams -- along with Duke, North Carolina and Kansas -- to have been spent time there in each of the last seven seasons.

"It's nice," Thompson said. "At the same time we have bigger fish to fry."

Up next
No. 7 Georgetown at Connecticut
When » Wednesday. 7 p.m.
Where » Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.
TV » ESPN2

He cut off a question before it finished about how long the Hoyas enjoyed their victory over the Orange.

"Until the plane landed," he said. "Then we started focusing on Connecticut. ... We don't want our season to be defined by a Syracuse win at the Dome. Our goals and what we want to accomplish is still ahead of us."

It's tempting to take stock ahead of facing the Huskies (19-7, 9-5), who won't play in the postseason -- not the Big East tournament or the NCAAs -- due to poor academic performance. Under first year coach Kevin Ollie and led by guards Shabazz Napier (17.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.2 rpg) and Ryan Boatwright (15.2 ppg, 4.3 apg), they've still been formidable.

While Porter is coming off a career-high 33 points at Syracuse that has put him squarely in the discussion for national player of the year, Napier has scored 28 and 27 in his last two games. He's put up 20 points or more five times in conference play, and Boatwright has done the same three times.

Only and Rutgers guard Eli Carter (23 points) and Providence guard Bryce Cotton (21 points) have scored 20 or more against in conference play against Georgetown, which has held 12 of 14 Big East opponents under 40 percent from the field.

Junior center Moses Ayegba was the latest role player to make a difference, pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds and making two blocks against Syracuse. Thompson said it was combination of good timing to face the Orange and Ayegba's improvement over the course of the year.

"That was a good game for him for a lot of different reasons, which I don't want to get into," Thompson said.

Ayegba joins sophomore reserve swingman Aaron Bowen (against Louisville) and junior walk-on John Caprio (against Seton Hall) for timely contributions to Georgetown's nine-game win streak.

"That's one thing that we accepted that it can be anybody so when it is somebody else turn, they shine," said Porter, who has led the team not just with scoring but selfless and contagious defensive effort.

While the Hoyas haven't nearly completed their goals, the strides they've made already have them increasingly tangible.

"I think what qualifies for me as a good season is being able to see a solid amount of progress from beginning to end," junior forward Nate Lubick said. "I think thus far, we've done that."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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