Pregame Primer: Men’s Basketball Set to Add Another Chapter to Storied Syracuse Rivalry

December 7, 2018

Tomorrow, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-1, Big East) will travel north to face Syracuse (6-2, ACC) at the Carrier Dome. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and the game can be watched on ESPN with live stats available at

This is the fourth matchup between the Hoyas and the Orange since Syracuse exited the Big East in 2013 and the 94th all-time edition of the fabled rivalry. After the Hoyas won their first two non-conference battles, Syracuse left D.C. with an 86-79 overtime victory last year.

Saturday also marks Patrick Ewing’s first trip to upstate New York as the Hoyas’ head coach. Ewing, who went 8-3 against the Orange as a player and was subject to incessant taunting in the Dome, said he expects “some boos, some cheers” from the crowd come pregame introductions.

Who will Ewing be leaning on to help the Hoyas walk out of Syracuse with a win? None other than former Orange star and current Georgetown assistant coach Louis Orr, who played with Ewing while they were with the New York Knicks. When asked about Orr’s return, Ewing responded: “Right now, we’re paying his check.”

The Hoyas will enter a hostile road environment without much momentum on their side. Though Georgetown has won its last four, those games included an OT escape against South Florida (6-2, AAC) before back-to-back unconvincing single-digit victories against Campbell (4-4, Big South) and Richmond (4-5, Atlantic 10). None of those teams rank inside Ken Pomeroy’s top 150 teams in the nation.

On Monday, however, the Hoyas dispatched a respectable Liberty squad (7-2, Atlantic Sun) 88-78 in a game they led by as many as 21 in the second half. The Hoyas shot a sizzling 61.1 percent from deep on Monday and 52.7 percent overall, with six players chipping in at least nine points in the winning effort. Senior center Jessie Govan had 17 points and 10 rebounds while freshman guard James Akinjo showed fans he can score as well as he can distribute, going for 19 points on 60 percent shooting.

A positive development for the Blue and Gray was the play of sophomore guard Jamorko Pickett. He had been struggling to begin the season while seeing extended periods of time on the bench after being billed a breakout candidate over the summer. Pickett had a well-rounded nine points, five rebounds, and five assists against the Flames.

Pacing the sidelines for the hosts on Saturday is a man all too familiar with the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry. Jim Boeheim will be overseeing his 78th game against Georgetown on Saturday, with his 39-38 record against the Hoyas in danger of returning again to .500. The squad he’s bringing are no slouches: junior guard Tyus Battle, sophomore forward Oshae Brissett, and junior forward Elijah Hughes all average more than 14 points per game to lead a balanced Orange offense. All three have nearly identical builds as well, measuring between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8, making them ideal fits for Boeheim’s classic 2-3 zone defense. The Orange have a nine-man rotation that features only one player (freshman guard Jalen Carey) below 6-foot-5, including Boeheim’s son Buddy, a freshman guard.

A consensus top-15 team in the country entering the season, the Orange surprisingly dropped back-to-back games against Connecticut (7-2, American) and Oregon (4-3, Pac-12) at the 2K Classic in New York City in mid-November. They have righted the ship to a degree, however, reeling off four straight wins, including a ten-point road victory over No. 19 Ohio State (8-1, Big Ten) on November 28.

Think the Syracuse players won’t be fired up for Saturday? “There’s no doubt I still hate Georgetown and I always will,” Buddy Boeheim said.

Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and coverage of all winter sports at Georgetown.

Will Shanahan
is a senior in the McDonough School of Business, and former Sports Executive and Editor of The Voice. He spends his days plotting visits to downstairs Leo's when the omelet line will be short and trying to recall memories of his middling high school football career.

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