No. 11 Georgetown 85, Seton Hall 73
Georgetown sophomore guard Jason Clark wasn't a major part of Seton Hall's scouting report before Thursday night's game. The Pirates certainly knew about him after it.
Clark scored a career-high 20 points, made all four of his 3-point shots and his defense helped shut down Seton Hall's top scorer in the 11th-ranked Hoyas' 85-73 victory.
His backcourtmates also had big games, with Chris Wright scoring 21 points and Austin Freeman adding 16. However, it was Clark who made the biggest impression on Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez.
``We knew Austin Freeman was capable and Chris Wright's a good player,'' Gonzalez said. ``But Jason Clark surprised us. He had an incredible night.''
It was a big turnaround for Clark, who was held scoreless in the Hoyas' 72-69 win against then-No. 13 Connecticut on Saturday.
``I don't know where it came from,'' Clark said after his scoring outburst. ``It was just our good offense that we ran, I got wide-open shots.''
Clark and Georgetown (13-2, 4-1 Big East) excelled in two main areas Thursday - offensive accuracy and defensive pressure. Clark's 5-of-6 shooting was part of a 68.2 percent performance by the Hoyas. That is the best mark ever against a Big East opponent and the second-best overall in six seasons under coach John Thompson III.
Clark was also at the forefront of a defensive effort that neutralized Jeremy Hazell of Seton Hall (10-6, 1-4) and had nine first-half steals, many leading to layups.
``It's fun to create offense off your defense,'' Wright said.
Hazell, who entered as the Big East's second-leading scorer at 23.3 points per game, led the Pirates with 17 points but was held in check for most of the game. He had eight points in the final minute, well after the outcome had been decided.
He opened the game's scoring with a 3-pointer before being shut down the rest of the half, held to five points on 2-of-5 shooting. He had a harder time the first 19 minutes of the second half and ended up 6 of 14 from the field, 3 of 9 on 3-pointers.
``He got frustrated, basically,'' Gonzalez said.
The Hoyas used a 15-0 run over a 4-minute stretch to take a 21-7 lead with 11 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Wright capped the run with two straight steals he converted into fast-break layups, part of Georgetown's 22 fast-break points in the game.
Three-pointers by Clark and Hollis Thompson pushed the margin to 29-12 with 8 1/2 minutes left and the Hoyas led 44-28 at halftime.
Georgetown took its largest lead of the game, 19 points, with 13 minutes left to play. Then Seton Hall made its move.
The Pirates scored the next 10 points, helped by a defensive press and some sloppy Georgetown play. Seton Hall seemed to figure out the Hoyas' defense - nearly all the Pirates' points in the second half came on layups or free throws - and Georgetown's offense went cold for the only time all game. The run coincided with the start of a 6-minute stretch when the Hoyas did not make a field goal.
The Pirates cut the lead to 61-54 before Georgetown came out of the slump. After a defensive rebound, Greg Monroe threw a long pass to a wide-open Wright for a layup with about 7 minutes left. Clark had two 3-pointers to help the Hoyas to a 73-59 lead with 4:30 remaining.
``Our guys are getting better at when we face a run - and we're going to face runs every game - to just circle the wagons,'' Thompson said, ``coming out of the run focused and finding a way not to let the run be prolonged.''
Clark is hoping his offensive run will last as the Hoyas continue the Big East schedule. After the disappointing outing against Connecticut, this may have been just what he needed to keep surprising people.
``It was frustrating,'' Clark said. ``That was refreshing, and it kind of gets my confidence back.''