Georgetown-South Florida Preview

Georgetown’s eight-game winning streak – and a chance to firmly

establish itself as the Big East’s third-best team – is history,

but a tight defeat on the road is hardly a reason to panic.

Following it up with a loss to South Florida would be.

The ninth-ranked Hoyas look to bounce back Saturday night at the

Sun Dome while trying to hand the Bulls a sixth consecutive

defeat.

Georgetown (20-6, 9-5) seemed to be on its way out of the Top 25

after losing 72-57 to Pittsburgh on Jan. 12, its fourth loss in

five games to open conference play. But the Hoyas reeled off eight

consecutive wins, including three over top-15 teams.

They had a chance for another Wednesday at No. 13 Connecticut.

Georgetown took a 70-69 lead with 4:01 left on a basket by Austin

Freeman but didn’t score again, letting the Huskies end the game on

a 9-0 run to win 78-70.

“Our defense was horrible today,” coach John Thompson III said

after his team allowed Kemba Walker to finish with 31 points while

UConn shot 54.2 percent.

Georgetown came in 31-3 over the past two seasons when it scored

at least 70 points.

“The offensive end was not the issue, it was the defensive end,”

said guard Chris Wright, who had a team-high 19 points. “As a team

we didn’t play our usual defense, and that’s what led to a lot of

easy shots for Kemba and his teammates.”

A win would have improved the Hoyas to 10-4 in the Big East and

pulled them within a half-game of Notre Dame for second place. Now,

they’re one of eight teams with either five or six league

losses.

Fortunately for Georgetown, it won’t have to deal with an

offense like UConn’s – or a player like Walker – on Saturday. South

Florida (8-19, 2-12) averages a league-low 61.7 points, 5.1 less

than 15th-place Rutgers.

The Bulls haven’t scored more than 58 in any of their past four

losses, three of which came against ranked opponents. They hung

around against No. 4 Pitt on Wednesday, trailing by two with 7:41

to play, but the Panthers went on a 14-2 run to send South Florida

to a 67-55 loss.

Coach Stan Heath was fairly pleased, though, despite his team

falling to 0-8 against Top 25 teams.

“I thought we did a lot of things well today against an

outstanding team,” Heath said. “We shot it well, which is something

we don’t always do so great. … Our guys battled pretty well, but

in the end it just wasn’t enough.”

The Bulls have lost their last 10 games against ranked opponents

dating to Feb. 3, 2010, when they shocked Georgetown 72-64 in the

nation’s capital.

That win was engineered by Mavericks first-round pick Dominique

Jones, who had 29 points. The Hoyas got some revenge in the second

round of the Big East tournament, holding South Florida to 29.1

percent shooting in a 69-49 win.

The Bulls are still looking for someone to fill the void left by

Jones. Forward Augustus Gilchrist leads the team with 11.8 points

per game, but he was removed from the starting lineup Wednesday

after averaging 6.0 points in his previous three games.

South Florida’s minus-5.4 turnover differential is last out of

346 Division I teams. The Hoyas are 14-1 when they force 12

turnovers or more.