WASHINGTON (AP)—All game long, bodies bumped and arms flailed. There was barely an open shot to be had. Neither team could get any rhythm, and there was no threat whatsoever of a game-breaking run.
So it was only fitting that No. 19 Georgetown and No. 17 Memphis needed overtime to settle their endless swarm of intense basketball. The Hoyas finally prevailed by holding Memphis to 1-for-9 shooting in the extra period, emerging with a 79-70 victory Saturday.
“We could never pull away; they could never pull away,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “It was back and forth. It was two teams that probably will continue to get better, but it was a tight, tense game where there was no breathing room.”
DaJuan Summers led the Hoyas (7-1) with 21 points, Austin Freeman added 18 and freshman Greg Monroe had 13 points and six rebounds, but it was Chris Wright who supplemented his 14 points with a solid defensive effort against standout freshman guard Tyreke Evans. Evans scored 20 points but was 8-for-24 from the field and had five turnovers.
“Before the game, y’all were talking about how big they are, but we made the plays,” said the 6-foot-1 Wright, who gave up 5 inches to Evans, “so it just goes to show that size isn’t the most important thing in the game.”
Wright had a huge basket late in overtime that began with a spin move at midcourt and ended with a got-bumped-again layup in heavy traffic. The basket gave Georgetown a 73-70 lead with 1:05 to play, and the Hoyas finished off the victory with free throws and a last-second 3-point heave.
Shawn Taggart had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (5-2), who were playing their first game following a 10-day layoff for exams. Memphis outrebounded Georgetown 53-36 but shot only 35 percent.
The game was a rematch of the Tigers’ 85-71 win in Memphis last December, when both were top 10 teams. Now they are top 20 teams, playing younger lineups that still need some sorting out.
“I don’t have my team figured out yet,” Memphis coach John Calipari said. “I’m trying everything and looking at it and watching it and sometimes I’m really happy and sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Some guys will come and play for a half and the next half they’re not that good and I’ve got to try somebody else.”
Georgetown outscored Memphis 13-4 in the overtime to run its home winning streak to 26 games, but everything else about the game was tight. Neither team led by more than one point from the 6 1/2 -minute mark of the second half until Freeman made one of two free throws with 31 seconds to play, giving the Hoyas a 66-64 lead.
Memphis took a timeout and ran down the clock until Evans missed a floater in the paint, but Taggart was there for another of the Tigers’ many tip-ins with 4 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
The game featured two of the top defenses in the country, and it was best described as a series of collisions over an orange ball. There was maybe one uncontested shot taken in the first 10 minutes, and not very many more over the rest of the game.
Pity the referee who had to decide which bump to call a foul, as well as the official scorer who had to decipher which of the many arms should be credited with the tip-ins. There were 18 lead changes, and neither team led by more than six in regulation.
For the Hoyas, it was perfect preparation for what’s to come when they begin conference play at the end of the month.
“It’s physical, and that’s how the Big East is,” Summers said. “We’re used to that, night in and night out.”