After getting blown out by Seton Hall on Tuesday, John Thompson III said that his team simply had to be better. The Hoyas clearly got the message, dominating Villanova Saturday afternoon from the opening tip.
Georgetown (21-6, 11-5 Big East) never trailed against Villanova (11-17, 4-12 Big East), cruising to a 67-46 victory.
“From our perspective, and what we did and how we executed, I thought we were 180 degrees from where we were the other day,” Thompson said.
The game was a stereotypically physical Big East contest, with the two teams combining to commit 42 fouls. The tone was established right at the start when freshman Otto Porter took a shot to the face from Villanova center Maurice Sutton. Sutton was charged with a flagrant foul, and Porter went to the bench after he started bleeding from the mouth.
Porter’s teammates retaliated by locking down the Wildcats. Villanova made just three field goals in the first 15 minutes of the game, and Georgetown jumped out to a 25-8 lead.
“We’re a family, we have each other’s back,” senior guard Jason Clark said. “We’re not going to let that happen to our teammate.”
Porter spent only a short time on the bench and recovered to have a great game. The freshman forward finished with 15 points and six rebounds, tying for the team-high in both categories.
Porter received only his second career start as sophomore guard Markel Starks was held out of the game. After the game Thompson was coy about the reason for Starks benching.
“I just wanted to start Otto and not play Starks,” Thompson said.
Asked if his decision had anything to do with a verbal altercation he and Starks appeared to have at the end of the Seton Hall game, the coach simply repeated the statement. Thompson did say that Starks was healthy. As for Starks’ status for Monday’s game against Notre Dame, Thompson said “we’ll see.”
After opening up that 25-8 lead, the Hoyas nearly allowed the Wildcats to claw their way back into the game. After the final media timeout of the half, Georgetown allowed Villanova to go on a 12-0 run, shaving their lead to just four with 1:29 to play before halftime.
“We had a younger group on the court that looked like a younger group on the court,” Thompson said. “As a group they were out there like a drunken sailor, and they just tried to think too much instead of just play.”
Junior guard Dominic Cheek did the majority of the damage for the Wildcats, knocking down two threes during the run en route to a game-high 19 points.
The Hoyas looked like they were going to head into the locker room having squandered all the momentum they had built in the first 15 minutes of the game, but with less than a minute left Porter managed to stop the bleeding, getting a favorable bounce on a three-pointer to give Georgetown a 30-23 halftime lead.
“That was a big play,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “It was the end of the shot clock, we’d had a good defensive possession. They didn’t have anywhere to go and we just gave him a little too much space there.”
The Wildcats never threatened in the second half, allowing the Hoyas to extend the lead to a comfortable margin.
Georgetown has just one day off before they take on Notre Dame, who should pose a greater challenge than the woeful Wildcats. It’s the final home game of the season for the Hoyas, who will honor seniors Clark and Henry Sims before the game.