The Georgetown men’s basketball team (3-0, Big East) beat the Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1, Big Ten) 88-80 in a back and forth game that served as the Hoyas biggest test of the season to date. A trio of freshmen led the way for the Hoyas. Guard James Akinjo had his best game thus far with 19 points and seven assists, while forward Josh Leblanc had 17 points and seven rebounds, and guard Mac McClung added 12 points and four assists. Freshman guard Ayo Dosunmu was the star for Illinois, with 25 points on the night.
The Fighting Illini got out to a hot start, starting the game on a 10-3 run on four Georgetown turnovers in the first four minutes. However, the Hoyas started to settle in after senior forward Trey Mourning converted an and-one to kickstart the offense. Georgetown then slowly crawled their way into the game, taking the lead on a floater from junior guard Jagan Mosely eight minutes into the half. After a two minute scoring drought, McClung made a layup in traffic to bring the Hoyas’ lead to three.
The rest of the half remained tight from there, as the teams traded buckets down the stretch, including two 3-pointers from sophomore guard Jahvon Blair, two impressive buckets from McClung, and three assists from Akinjo, who finished the half with six. With under 30 seconds to go in the half and the score knotted at 37, senior center Jessie Govan hit a jumper from the free throw line after only having three points in the game to give Georgetown the two-point lead going into the break.
In the first two and a half minutes of the second half, the Hoyas extended their lead to seven before Illinois game back to take the lead 50-49. McClung and Govan made consecutive baskets to put Georgetown back up by three, but Dosunmu answered with his second three of the half to keep the Fighting Illini in it. He would continue to be the X-factor for Illinois, as the teams traded leads until the Illini went up by five after junior guard Andres Feliz scored seven straight points capped off by an and-one after a steal. Blair quickly stopped the bleeding with a three, but the Illini would continue to pressure the Hoyas, forcing head coach Patrick Ewing to call a timeout with eight minutes remaining and his team down four. A three from senior guard Greg Malinowski, followed by a steal and reverse dunk from McClung put the Hoyas up by three with just over four minutes remaining and forced Illinois head coach Brad Underwood to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Dosunmu hit a layup to bring the Illini within one. After Georgetown jumped back out to a five point lead, the Illini closed the gap again. Dosunmu hit two free throws with just under two minutes to go to make the score 81-80 Hoyas. However, Illinois would fail to score again. After both teams went scoreless for a minute, Akinjo made the biggest play of the night when he hit a floater and was fouled with 40 seconds remaining to put the Hoyas up four and seal the game. Govan and Mosely both made their free throws down the stretch, and the Hoyas left the State Farm Center with their first Gavitt Tipoff Games win.
The Hoyas shot 55.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three on the night. Turnovers continued to plague Ewing’s team though, as Georgetown committed 22, five each coming from Akinjo and Mourning. The Hoyas next travel to Jamaica where they will take on Loyola Marymount (3-0, WCC) and South Florida (2-0, AAC) in the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic on Friday and Sunday. Those games will be broadcast on CBS Sports and live stats will be available on guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more basketball coverage throughout the season.