Sports

Hypno-Toad strikes again, Hoyas lose a heartbreaker to TCU

December 4, 2023


Photo by Daniel Rankin

Saturday, December 2 was a day which will live in infamy for Georgetown men’s basketball. After battling back from a double digit deficit, Georgetown head coach Ed Cooley’s group fell at the buzzer as TCU senior forward Emanuel Miller hit a circus shot with his foot on the out-of-bounds line to take the 84-83 win, dropping Georgetown to a 5-3 record on the season, and lifting TCU to 7-0.

At first, the crowd at Capital One Arena stood in disbelief. The Hoyas lost on a rare buzzer beater after perhaps their best performance of the season. Next came the cheers as the video replay on the big screen clearly showed two violations—first an illegal inbounds pass, then Miller stepping out of bounds before taking his fateful shot. As the big screen at Capital One Arena panned to Cooley, TCU head coach Jamie Dixon, and head official Mike Roberts discussing the fate of the game, Cooley’s exasperation was visible to all when the ref informed him that the basket would stand, and the crowd was incensed. 

The reality of the situation was simple. Yes, high leverage calls were missed in real time, but calls get missed all the time, and frankly the referees would have no reason to anticipate the inbound violation, and the out of bounds call may have come down to the referee paying more attention to whether or not Miller released the ball before the final buzzer. While the referees could see what had happened on that final play from the replay, NCAA rules on what can and cannot be overturned by video review dictate that the call on the floor of a made basket must stand. 

It would be unfair to Georgetown, though, to boil the takeaway of this game down to one moment. This game marked serious progress for this team and this program, and Cooley said as much in his post-game presser. 

Led by the usual suspects of sophomore guard Jayden Epps and junior forward Dontrez Styles, the Hoyas raced out to a 21-14 lead six minutes into the first half. TCU battled back using short scoring runs of five to six points to tie the game back up at 27-27 with under nine to play in the first half. Led by Miller, junior forward Jakobe Coles, and senior guard Jameer Nelson Jr., the Horned Frogs seized control of the game, forcing and converting on Hoya turnover after Hoya turnover to take a 44-36 lead into the halftime intermission. Georgetown was in the danger zone and flirting with an outright collapse, something that this team has committed once before, as only six games ago the Hoyas blew a double digit lead to lose against a less than stellar Holy Cross team. At the time, people fairly criticized the Hoyas for their lack of consistent effort and lackadaisical play which opened the door for Holy Cross to come back. Last night, however, the Hoyas showed real fight. After going down early in the second half by 15 points, it would not have been crazy to imagine Georgetown folding and being overwhelmed by a good TCU team. After all, the Hoyas were a 10.5 point underdog entering the game, and some were questioning if Georgetown would be completely outclassed by the Horned Frogs.

Clearly, nobody in the Hoya locker room was ready to go out with a whimper, as they proceeded to mount an extended 28-12 run to take back control of the game with just under 10 minutes to play. The Hoyas maintained their advantage and extended it to as much as five points down the stretch. It was a battle though, as for every three-pointer from Ismael Massoud, Miller and company would throw a counterpunch of their own. The game came down to the final moments, as TCU tied the game at 81 with back-to-back clutch buckets. Left with the game on the line, Epps was fouled driving to the basket and made both free-throws to give Georgetown a 83-81 lead with under three seconds to play. What followed was chaos, incited by the aforementioned Miller three-point basket as the clock expired. The Hoyas lost, 84-83. Epps once again led the Hoyas in scoring with 24 points, Styles chipped in 18 and Massoud added 16 in only his second game for the Hoyas since returning from a hand injury.

As someone who has seen every game this team has played, I cannot help but emphasize the improvements made during this game. After being completely stymied by TCU’s defense late in the first half, the Hoyas cleaned up their turnover issues in a major way in the second half. The impact of Massoud’s return also cannot be understated, as the offense has flowed much better with him in the game, and the defense, although still unspectacular, suffers less breakdowns due to players being in the wrong place with Massoud on the floor. While this team still has a ways to go, the improvement that they exhibited against TCU bodes very well for the road ahead.

 



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