Austin Freeman scored 24 points for the Hoyas, who sent a raucous Memphis crowd to the exits early.
“I just like to have fun with it,” Georgetown guard Chris Wright said of the environment. “I’m not paying attention to it. We’ve been in many arenas where it’s been crazy with people yelling at you, saying inappropriate things. It’s just part of the game. It’s fun after awhile.”
Freeman was 9 of 12 from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range as the Hoyas (11-1) won their third straight.
Wright had 19 points, while Julian Vaughn added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoyas, who outscored the Tigers 46-33 in the second half.
“Our guys refocused and executed, particularly on the defensive end, what we were trying to do better than we did in the first half.” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “It was not a huge tactical change. You just come into halftime and challenge them. We have to do what we do better than they do what they do. I think our guys did a good job of doing that in the second half.”
Will Barton had 18 points for the Tigers (9-2), while Will Coleman added 12. Tarik Black finished with 10 points, missing only one of his six shots.
It was Memphis’ first loss since falling 81-68 to Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7. The Tigers allowed Georgetown to shoot 57 percent for the game, including 63 percent after the break. The Hoyas also converted 5 of 11 shots outside the arc.
“When you look at it, they shot 46 percent from 3, and 57 for the game,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “Some of the things that allowed them to shoot those percentages were due to our lack of execution. If you’re going to win at a high level, there’s no way you can let a team shoot 57 percent from the field. That just comes down to hanging your head on defense.”
Memphis started with a lot of intensity behind Coleman, who was offended earlier in the week when someone asked if the Tigers could “steal” a victory from the Hoyas.
“It definitely gave me some fire,” Coleman said of the start. “I’m not going to lie. I was offended a little bit. I just came out and tried to play as hard as I could.”
That worked for awhile as Memphis held a four-point lead near the midway point of the first half, but the Hoyas answered with eight straight points, led by Freeman and Wright, who had two baskets each to comprise the rally.
Memphis would never lead again.
The atmosphere was as intense as any Memphis home game this season. But Georgetown maintained its composure, shooting 52 percent in the first half and committing only six turnovers.
The Hoyas would take their first double-digit lead by opening the second half with a 10-4 run, causing Pastner to call a timeout.
Georgetown continually showed why it’s the second-best shooting team in the nation (52.5 percent). The Hoyas got to the basket with their cutting offense.
“We have some very good offensive players in our locker room,” Thompson said. “And we have an extremely unselfish group of players that have done a very good job of getting each other open and getting each other quality shots. We’re going to get good shots. And with the offensive players that we have, when we get good shots, they’re going to go in.”
Georgetown’s lead reached 76-59 after Freeman scored on a drive with 3:37 left.
One major factor was a difference in experience. Memphis has a squad that relies heavily on freshmen, while the Hoyas start three seniors, a junior and a sophomore. The experience was reflected, not only in dealing with a hostile crowd, but in Georgetown running its offense.
“It definitely shows a lot maturity to be able to run that Princeton offense,” Coleman said. “It takes a lot of patience, control, concentration. So, you could definitely tell those are some veteran guys that have been playing together for awhile.”
With its non-conference schedule out of the way, Georgetown hopes its experience can help as the Hoyas enter Big East play.
“Hopefully, the schedule, and the venues that we’ve played, will help prepare us because it’s going to be like that every night on the road,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, this game (and other non-conference opponents) will help prepare us. Not just because of the opponents, the quality of the opponent and the quality of players we’ve gone against, but also the venues have been extremely difficult. So, we’re used to it.”