Porter powers Hoyas to 11th straight victory

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Sports,Craig Stouffer

Otto Porter Jr. spent most of the night at the free throw line. But when he wasn't there, he put on another masterful show to push his fast-rising national profile and that of streaking Georgetown ever higher.

The sophomore forward had 28 points in the seventh-ranked Hoyas' 64-51 win over Rutgers, two fewer than the Scarlet Knights' total number of personal fouls in the whistle-plagued contest for both sides before 12,391 at Verizon Center.

He also had eight rebounds, four steals, three blocks, two assists and a solitary turnover. He played all but the contest's final 23 seconds.

"I know who I'm voting for, for Big East player of the year," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said afterward.

Porter accumulated more than half of his points at the stripe, where he hit 15 of 18 attempts, the most since Mike Sweetney made 16 against Minnesota in the 2003 postseason NIT.

But during the action he made the spectacular look routine to propel the Hoyas (23-4, 13-3 Big East) to their 11th straight victory, matching their longest streak since 2007. The win moved Georgetown back into sole possession of first place in the Big East and clinched a top-four seed in the conference tournament.

"I just have to do whatever necessary to win," Porter said with no change in his facial expression. "I think my teammates feel the same way, and the coaches."

Porter awoke the crowd at the late-starting contest with a vicious rejection from behind on Kadeem Jack's layup in the first half. When Markel Starks (nine points) was pressured into a missed runner on the fast break, Porter soared for a two-handed putback slam as the Hoyas took control in the second half. He played through non-calls, he waited until Rutgers players were high in the air to draw contact.

With Georgetown pulling away from the Scarlet Knights (13-14, 4-12), he tracked Jerome Seagears, all alone on a breakaway, and expertly stuffed his layup.

"I was just trying to play good defense without fouling," Porter said. "He tried to jump into me, but I tried to use my length to my advantage."

Porter brought the crowd to his feet and put the game away with a pass-fake, driving reverse lay-in that spun into the basket for a 58-48 lead with 3:56 to play.

Throughout, there were all those trips to the line, and there could've been more. Rice said his players were anxious just trying to defend Porter, who had 19 points, 14 assists and the game-winning shot in the teams' first meeting on Feb. 9 and has gained more attention with each successive Georgetown victory.

Lamenting his team's struggles in three career outings against Porter, Rice was asked if he'd ever expected his explosion onto the national scene, one that has pushed the Hoyas into discussions for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

"I saw a really good player [last year], and I don't know if anybody in this room could've predicted what he is right now, how efficient, how strong, just mentally he's unbelievable," Rice said. "I always thought he was going to be a really good player, but you'd think he was going to be as - it's not close who is the Big East player of the year right now. To be honest, if he keeps continuing, it's not even close national player of the year."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner