No. 9 Villanova tops Georgetown in ‘old school’ game
WASHINGTON — Lots of turnovers. Lots of fouls. For Villanova coach Jay Wright, it was also lots of fun — although it’s safe to say he felt that way only because his team won.
In a game of starts and stops — 34 turnovers, 39 fouls and 41 field goals — the ninth-ranked Wildcats beat Georgetown 65-60 on Monday night to move into a tie for first place in the Big East while handing the Hoyas their fifth straight loss.
”That was old-school Big East, man,” Wright said. ”That was fun.”
James Bell scored 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting and had a big 3-pointer late in the game, and Daniel Ochefu added 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting for the Wildcats (18-2, 7-1 Big East), who forced 18 turnovers while committing 16.
A crucial difference came at the free-throw line: Villanova made 22 of 28, Georgetown hit 8 of 9. Many of the whistles produced puzzled faces as both teams, along with the officials, continue to adjust to this season’s emphasis on calling more touch fouls. In a game with no flow whatsoever, the biggest lead was eight points — and that’s only because Georgetown scored the first eight points of the game.
”We love that. Both teams are just so physical and so tough,” Wright said. ”And that game was played within new rules, and I think both of us are learning how to play that way. . . . I think down the stretch we played pretty good defense. Sometimes you’ve got to win that way.”
Already short-handed, the last thing Georgetown coach John Thompson III needs is a huge foul discrepancy. He said ”every game seems to be called differently” and added: ”One could say that opposite ends of court are called differently.”
”We’re getting the ball into the paint, we’re getting penetration, we’re getting drives, we’re getting the ball down low. Fouls aren’t being called,” Thompson said. ”I’m not saying we’re being fouled and they’re not called. I don’t know, but you look at that stat right away and you see we shot nine foul shots they shoot 28, so we’ve got to figure out how to get fouled.”
Markel Starks scored 20 points for the Hoyas (11-9, 3-6), who have their longest losing streak since 2011 and have dropped three straight at home for the first time since 2009.
Starks’ floater cut Georgetown’s deficit to 61-58 with 2:08 to play, but he was called for an offensive foul after making a pass under the basket with 35 seconds remaining. Villanova then made a series of free throws to hold on for the win.
After topping off at No. 4 in the Top 25, Villanova has had all it can handle in its last three games. A loss to Creighton has been followed by an overtime win over Marquette and now the tough victory over the Hoyas.
”We haven’t been pretty in either one of them,” Wright said. ”But we found a way.”
Before tipoff, Georgetown had another day of ups and downs on the roster. Jabril Trawick returned after missing five games with a broken jaw and played 12 minutes. The Hoyas learned shortly before tipoff that senior center Moses Ayegba had to sit out due to a one-game NCAA suspension.
Ayegba’s suspension looked like a bureaucratic mess, even by NCAA standards. It was related to the nine-game suspension he received as a freshman for violating pre-enrollment rules, an infraction that the Hoyas have said was connected to a plane ticket that brought him from Nigeria to the United States years ago — before Georgetown even started recruiting him.
Thompson said he had no inkling of any impending issues regarding Ayegba until Monday afternoon- and the coach didn’t know for sure whether Ayegba would play until 6:15 p.m., less than three hours before tipoff.
The Hoyas were already playing without center Joshua Smith, who was recently ruled out for the rest of the season due to academic issues.
”We’re going to look under every rock, we’re going to try to figure it out. We’re going to get out of this hole,” Thompson said. ”I don’t have all the answers as to how.”