WASHINGTON (AP)—Coach John Thompson III was nervous about being a “goat” on a historic weekend.
Georgetown celebrated the 100th anniversary of Hoyas basketball Saturday, with Patrick Ewing and scores of other former players in town for a fancy gala and other events. Somewhere among it all, the present day Hoyas had a huge game to play, and the 22nd-ranked team came through with a 76-58 win over No. 11 Marquette.
“It makes the event we’re having tonight a lot easier to show up to,” Thompson III said. “That was the main thing I was thinking—I’m not going to be the goat tonight if we lose.”
On a day in which Ewing was honored as the most popular player on the school’s all-century team, Roy Hibbert maintained the legacy of the great Georgetown centers with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Jeff Green matched his career-high with 24 points in the seventh-straight win for the Hoyas (18-5, 8-2 Big East).
“Last night I seriously couldn’t sleep. I stayed up and watched some old Georgetown games,” said Hibbert, whose viewing including the 1985 classic in which coach John Thompson wore a striped sweater to match St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca’s lucky sweater. “I look back at those games and I’m like, ‘Wow, I get the chance to put on this jersey and represent Georgetown.’ I was anxious for this game.”
Hibbert’s hook shot and Green’s 3-pointer started a 23-6 game-ending run. Marquette trailed by only one, 53-52, after Jerel McNeal’s 3-pointer with 7:29 remaining, but the Golden Eagles made only one field goal and four free throws the rest of the game.
Ousmane Barro had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (21-5, 8-3 Big East), who had won eight straight. The sophomore guard trio of Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and McNeal combined for 19 points, less than half of their 42.6 average. James’ shooting woes continued—he went 2-for-17 from the field and is 5-for-35 over his last three games.
“My shot selection probably was very poor,” James said. “That just comes from not getting my teammates the ball enough. But that’s the great thing about basketball—you can go home and get better and there’s always the next game.”
Marquette coach Tom Crean, who coached despite a virus that has slowed him for several days, was feeling ill after the game and was not available for comment.
The game was a classic battle of speed vs. size, of Marquette’s drive-to-the-basket backcourt against Georgetown’s towering frontcourt of Hibbert and Green. The Golden Eagles wanted to play fast; the Hoyas were deliberate.
The Golden Eagles started 3-for-14 from the field, and an early tone was set when James drove to the basket and had his runner altered by the long reach of Hibbert.
But a fast-break layup by Matthews started a 9-0 run that cut the lead to one. A dunk by Hibbert and a free throw by Green gave Georgetown a 28-26 lead at the half.
Green came out of nowhere to stuff in an offensive rebound early in the second half, but Barro made his mark as well. The Marquette center’s putback while Hibbert was on the bench helped prompt Thompson III to get his center back in the game quickly.
After Hibbert returned, he and Green scored the next 17 points for Georgetown to put the game away.
“We’re getting better, and our guys definitely have a comfort level with how we want to skin the cat, so to say,” Thompson III said. “We’re more poised. A lot of times early in the season teams would make a run, and we’d stand around looking starry eyed.”
At a halftime ceremony, the Hoyas unveiled the all-century team that included Ewing, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, Michael Jackson, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson and many others. Curiously, the ceremony made no mention of the one man to whom the school owes its national basketball relevance, Hall of Fame coach Thompson.
“I don’t go out on the court for halftime,” said the elder Thompson, who was to be honored later at the gala. “I leave that to Barnum & Bailey.”