The Georgetown men’s basketball team (8-0, Big East) will face Syracuse (8-1, ACC) at the Capital One Arena on Saturday, as the Hoyas look to remain one of college basketball’s six undefeated teams. Georgetown is 2-0 against their rival Syracuse since the Orange left the Big East in 2013, beating them 79-72 and 78-71 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
“I think everyone knows the magnitude of this game,” junior center Jessie Govan said. “Georgetown-Syracuse, one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball. Everybody’s excited.”
“It was a great rivalry,” head coach Patrick Ewing said, reflecting on his time as a Hoya playing Syracuse. “It’s something that we’re gonna continue. [Syracuse head coach Jim] Boeheim is an outstanding coach. Both schools have great legacies.”
The Hoyas are coming off of a win against North Carolina A&T (5-4, MEAC)behind Govan’s 22 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman guard Jamorko Pickett added 12 points and junior guard/forward Kaleb Johnson had ten. The Hoyas opened the game 14-0, but let the Aggies back into it, only winning by nine in the end. Georgetown had 15 turnovers in the game, and shot 48.4 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three, which pales in comparison to the Hoya’s season average of 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Syracuse will be the Hoyas’ biggest test to date. The Orange have beaten Maryland (10-3, 1-1 Big 10) and UConn (7-3, AAC) this year, with their only loss coming to then-No. 2 Kansas (7-2, Big XII). The Orange are led by sophomore guard Tyus Jones, who is averaging 20.7 points per game, and junior guard Frank Howard, who is averaging 14.7 points and six assists per game. Syracuse boasts an extraordinarily tall starting lineup, with an average height of 6-foot-8, and a 7-foot-2 center in junior Paschal Chukwu.
“They’re the tallest team in college basketball right now,” Ewing said. “I think their wingspan and their length is their biggest thing to hurt people.”
The Hoyas will look to put pressure on Syracuse’s defensive zone with Ewing’s quick NBA-style offense. “Transition points are definitely gonna be a big thing for us,” Govan said. “We gotta try and get some easy buckets because if we score before they set up the zone that makes our job a lot easier.”
“They’re a team that likes to play slow,” Ewing said of Syracuse’s pace. “We want to definitely be able to get stops and run. But if you don’t get stops and you don’t rebound the ball you won’t be able to run.”
On campus, students have been placing X’s over S’s on signs and the dining hall has stopped serving Oranges until after the game. “It’s great that the school is really behind us,” Govan said. “No S’s until after the game.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on CBS. Follow @GUVoiceSports for game day updates and breaking news.