The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (5-8, 3-5 Big East) pulled off an impressive road upset Wednesday night, beating No. 15 Creighton (13-5, 9-4 Big East) 86-79. Coming off an energizing win last Saturday against Providence, the Hoyas pulled ahead early and stayed in control throughout the contest to earn a marquee victory over the Bluejays. The winning effort was led by their senior guards, with Jahvon Blair’s 22 points and 7 assists pacing the Hoyas along with Jamorko Pickett’s 16 points and 7 rebounds. For Creighton, senior forward Denzel Mahoney’s 22 points and senior guard Mitch Ballock’s 16 point effort fell short as the nationally ranked Bluejays fell victim to the rigors of Big East competition.
Going into the matchup, Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing made a significant adjustment, elevating graduate forward Chudier Bile to the starting lineup coming off his 19 point effort against Providence. This surprising shift paid dividends, with Bile pouring in 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals while making several crucial plays on both offense and defense.
Coming out of the gate trying to keep up with Creighton’s potent offense, the Hoyas set the competitive tone early. After a Bile steal led to points for Blair to open the game, the teams traded small leads for the opening chapter of the game. Yet the Hoyas took advantage of pinpoint shooting and an edge in the paint. In fact, Creighton’s 13-12 lead with 14:41 remaining in the first half was their last of the evening. From there on, the Hoyas were able to stay in control despite several Bluejay runs.
As the first half wound down, Georgetown appeared on the verge of blowing the game open, holding a 42-13 advantage with 2:56 remaining. Yet Coach Greg McDermott’s team showed their resolve to keep the game close, going on an 8-0 run in the closing minutes. Though graduate guard Donald Carey answered by scoring just as time expired, the Hoyas went into the break with a precarious 44-39 lead.
The narrow halftime advantage underscored several potential warning signs for the Hoyas. Their lead was built on unsustainable 57% shooting, including 61% from three. Meanwhile, the fast paced offensive game was the exact style Creighton normally thrives in. That tone also contributed to Georgetown’s 10 first half turnovers, more than their entire total against Providence last Saturday. Yet coming out of several weeks off due to COVID, Coach Ewing’s team proved resilient.
“We made a few mistakes to start the game, but kept our composure. The best thing is that when we make a mistake, we stopped dwelling on it,” said Ewing of his team’s performance. “Basketball is a game of runs. We made a run to start the game, they came back, but we kept our composure and kept on fighting.”
Both teams came out of halftime slow, with over two minutes before the first points of the period. As the half drew on, however, the action picked up as Creighton repeatedly narrowed the contest to a one or two possession game but proved unable to push further. A combination of poised play from Georgetown’s experienced leaders combined with prescient adjustments to keep the Bluejays at bay. The Hoyas were also able to hammer the paint, with sophomore centers Qudus Wahab and Timothy Ighoefe able to consistently make a difference inside.
“They beat us in every facet of the game,” said McDermott. “We allowed Pickett and Blair to get started. They’re really hard to stop once they get started. Bile had a good game in the last game and I thought he hurt us again today with some key baskets.”
Bile, operating from his new starting role, proved particularly impactful in the second half with 15 of his 17 points (6-8 from the field) coming in that period. More than just putting up points, he was also a difference-maker on both ends. “Chudier started slow but did a great job in the second half. His effort, his rebounding, got some steals, got some turnovers. He’s physical, he’s athletic, and we need that,” said Ewing.
Once such play from Bile proved decisive on one of the game’s crucial sequences. With under two minutes remaining and Georgetown only ahead 76-70, the Hoyas were called for a shot clock violation, giving Creighton a crucial possession. Yet a vigorous appeal from Ewing and the Georgetown bench that a last second shot by Wahab grazed the rim prevailed to secure a fresh clock. The outcry seemed for nought, however, as the Georgetown offense was held at bay. About to yield the ball to Creighton with plenty of time to erase their six point deficit, Jahvon Blair banked in a staggering three at the last possible moment. That shot, making it a nine point game, proved a dagger to Creighton’s comeback attempt. A flurry of fouls prolonged the final minute and a half, but the Hoyas sealed a complete performance to earn Ewing’s first win at Creighton as Georgetown’s head coach.
“This was a great win for us. I thought that everybody did something positive to help us win,” said Ewing. “Hopefully this will be a signature win for us. We had a great game versus Providence and we need to continue to build off of that.”
Georgetown will have an opportunity to continue their momentum at Big East rival Villanova (11-2, 6-1 Big East) on February 7, with tipoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m. For continued coverage of men’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.