Georgetown-Syracuse Preview

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry is one that has withstood the

test of time in the Big East.

The conference has changed in so many ways over the years, and

continues to, especially with Syracuse headed for the Atlantic

Coast Conference.

But for so long, there has always been the Orange and the Hoyas.

And on Wednesday night, another chapter will be added.

For Scoop Jardine, this will be the last game of his Syracuse

career against Georgetown in the Carrier Dome.

But don’t talk to him about that. Rivalry aside, he’s only

concerned about one thing.

”Get a win. I ain’t worrying about it being the last game,”

Jardine said Tuesday, sweat dripping off his forehead during a

brief break in practice. ”I’m worrying about the end of the game,

the results, us winning no matter how we look, no matter how we get

it. We need some wins right now.”

Second-ranked Syracuse (23-1, 10-1 Big East) has plenty of those

at this juncture of the season and brings a perfect 15-0 home

record into the game against the 12th-ranked Hoyas (18-4, 8-3), who

have won five of six.

Georgetown has limited four Big East opponents under 50 points

this season, including its last two triumphs. The Hoyas held

Connecticut to 44 points and 30 percent shooting last Wednesday

night, the Huskies’ worst output in both categories since the

1990s. And then, they limited South Florida to 45 points on

Saturday. The Bulls committed turnovers on nine straight

possessions and didn’t score for nearly 11 minutes as Georgetown

took control.

”It’s not all about scoring, it’s about playing defense, too,”

Georgetown freshman forward Otto Porter said. ”If you can’t stop

the other team from scoring, then what good is it, everybody

scoring?”

Georgetown is one of only five teams nationally with at least

four wins over top-25 teams. The Hoyas beat Memphis in the Maui

Invitational early in the season, won at Alabama and Louisville,

and topped Marquette last month.

With 7-foot sophomore center Fab Melo back in the lineup for

Syracuse after missing three games because of an academic issue,

the Orange are a more intimidating bunch. They were ranked No. 1

for six weeks before suffering their lone loss at Notre Dame, the

first game Melo missed. He returned on Saturday and had a

career-high 14 points to help Syracuse to a 95-70 win over St.

John’s at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm’s worst loss of the

season.

The message to his team is simple for Georgetown coach John

Thompson III.

”We tell them we’re going to face probably the best team in the

country right now, a team that’s multilayered in terms of their

depth at every position,” said Thompson, who guided the Hoyas to a

64-56 victory over Syracuse here a year ago, his first win in the

Carrier Dome in six tries.

Expect another low-scoring affair. The Hoyas are second in the

Big East in scoring defense, allowing only 59.2 points.

”You’re going to have a lot of games like that, where there’s a

lot of defense, shots are tough to come by,” Georgetown guard

Markel Starks said. ”It’s tough to make shots. That’s what the Big

East is. It’s rugged basketball. It’s who’s tougher than who.

That’s what it boils down to, especially as it gets closer to

tournament time. It’s about having a certain toughness, a mental

toughness, a physical toughness.”

Jardine agreed.

”Every time we play Georgetown, it’s a low-scoring, defensive

game,” said the guard who is in his fifth and final year at

Syracuse. ”It’s a rivalry game, so both teams are going to be

intense. Both teams are going to play really hard.”

The game has added significance. With Syracuse’s impending move

to the ACC, it could be the last time the teams meet as Big East

foes in the Carrier Dome, and Orange coach Jim Boeheim needs one

more victory to take sole possession of third place on the Division

I all-time wins list. Boeheim has 879, tied with North Carolina’s

Dean Smith.

”I’m excited for him, excited for the opportunity to get him

that win,” Syracuse senior forward Kris Joseph said.

The number of tickets sold for Saturday’s game here against

Connecticut already is over 31,000, and the crowd for Georgetown is

approaching 30,000. Georgetown-Syracuse has drawn more than 30,000

fans 15 times since the Carrier Dome opened in 1980.

”They know what they’re walking into,” Thompson said. ”They

have a sense of the crowd and how great their fans are and how

numerous their fans are. Once the game starts, it’s a court, it’s a

gym, it’s fans. Obviously, there aren’t too many venues that hold

as many people as the Carrier Dome. And there aren’t too many games

that are as spirited as the Georgetown-Syracuse games have been

down through the years.

”So is this game special? Absolutely, but I think our guys are

going to show up and be ready to play.”

Starks is set for the challenge. He was indoctrinated last year

as a freshman.

”I was the first person out to that game, and I was shooting

(during early warmups), and as soon as I got on the court, fans,

they were jawing at me,” Starks said. ”I heard some things that I

wish I didn’t hear. The best way I can tell (the freshmen) to

prepare for it, is try to tune the crowd out, and it’s hard.”

AP Sports Writer Joseph White in Washington, D.C. contributed to

this report.