With the Georgetown Hoyas beating the DePaul Blue Demons on Tuesday night, 81-76, to end a 29-game conference-record losing streak, many fans feel like both nothing changes and everything changes, simultaneously. It is perfectly fine to be glad to see Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas finally get a win while maintaining a suitably surly attitude about the overall state of the program. “Relief” might be the right word for many Hoyas fans, but these Georgetown athletes should be praised for their toughness accordingly. Closing that chapter is important and hopefully breaking the streak allows them to have a little more fun, relax on and off the court, and trust each other a bit more.
As stated in the game recap and elsewhere, the Hoyas stayed aggressive, kept driving, and made their free throws when it counted. Not every game will allow this approach and not every opponent will reward an aggressive team with a plethora of fouls. The modern college game is different from the NBA or even college ball from the 2010s (or 1980s). But, that night, driving to the hole worked for the Hoyas.
There was no great epiphany in strategy that led to the win. Georgetown’s defense got some stops at the right times and anchored two solid second-half runs, but there were few answers in the waning minutes as DePaul had a 13-6 run to finish the game. It was good to see Akok moving and communicating well. However, this is still not the defense of Ewing’s 2021 team, let alone a squad led by a coach named Thompson or Esherick.
Offensively, if there were any key improvements that urged the win they might be seen in shot selection. The emphasis on keeping the Blue Demons in foul trouble led to fewer lower-percentage, mid-range jumpers. There were still a lot of longer jump shots, but the shots that were taken by Murray and Spears were typically from preferred spots from possessions that almost looked like sets.
Georgetown only had 13 assists, which probably typifies the drive-and-get-fouled offensive approach, but recent games against Xavier (31 assists, 9 TOs) and Marquette (29 assists, 9 TOs) yielded higher shooting percentages. The Hoyas looked a bit more comfortable moving the ball and only had three second-half turnovers (Spears, Riley, and Wahab). The tight loss at Villanova yielded only 9 assists (only 7 TOs) but the Hoyas had their highest filed goal percentage (53.8%) since beating Green Bay (61%). Moving the ball is still the best approach, moving forward.
Akok Akok: “Game by game, it’s kind of frustrating. It was the same result every game, but coach Ewing he just kept emphasizing the message of staying in the fight, keep believing. Some of the points he made was having pride in wearing the Georgetown jersey.”
— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) January 25, 2023
Three-point shooting has not been good for the Hoyas recently. In 10 games of conference play, Georgetown has made only 52 of 174 attempts (29.9%). They were 4 for 15 against DePaul. That’s not good enough to win in the BIG EAST. Jay Heath (still recovering) has the highest percentage this season (38.5%), with Wayne Bristol (37.1%) as second and Brandon Murray (36.1%), Jordan Riley (31.6%) and Bryson Mozone 31.3%) following. Akok Akok (19-66; 28.8%) needs to take those opportune threes, as does Primo Spears (14-54, 26%)—but the perimeter shots have to come off a pass, not a dribble.
Perhaps with the first win the team can now shake off some pressure and focus on improving their teamwork and communication.
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“We haven’t stopped believing,” Ewing said, and that’s admirable. “Sometimes you need to just pop the cork or pop the seal. We popped the seal tonight. We have 10 more games to go. So we can get ourselves right back in the hunt.”
A rare reason for optimism Tuesday night. But it doesn’t change the reality of the situation. In the four years when he became one of the greatest players in the college game’s history, Ewing lost 23 games in total. Twenty-nine in a row in a conference it helped bring to prominence isn’t erased because the Blue Demons allowed Georgetown 41 foul shots and went 11 of 19 from the line themselves.
“Coach Ewing, he just kept emphasizing the message, just stay in the fight,” said junior forward Akok Akok, a transfer from Connecticut. “Keep believing. … Pride, and having pride in wearing the Georgetown jersey. That’s a couple things that are important in our program.”
But the losing, it wears on everybody. Ewing is not in his first season trying to resurrect his alma mater. He’s in his sixth.
Went to Georgetown-DePaul Tuesday night. The Hoyas avoided what would have been their 30th straight Big East loss. But that doesn’t change what’s obvious: The Hoyas need a change. https://t.co/DCrpRmXiHI
— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) January 25, 2023
“Finally, we got one,” Ewing told reporters with a smile. “My team worked extremely hard…
“I’ve won pretty much everywhere that I’ve been so losing is not something that I’m familiar with. It’s all about getting up. When you get knocked down, you can’t stay down. You have to continue to get up. I kept getting up every day. My team kept getting up every day and kept on fighting.”
Ewing’s team set a new record for futility by going 0-19 last season and then dropped their first nine league games this season.
Georgetown outscored DePaul 17-9 to open the second half, taking a 53-46 lead. DePaul held Georgetown without a field goal for a four-minute stretch that put the Blue Demons ahead one, 58-57. From there, the Hoyas responded and took a 60-58 lead that they would not relinquish.
Sophomore guard Primo Spears led the way on Tuesday with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds. Georgetown allowed DePaul to shoot 49.2% from the field and 46.7% (7 of 15) from 3-point range. But the Hoyas found their edge with volume at the free throw line, where they connected on 27 of 41 (65.9%) attempts, more than doubling DePaul’s 11-of-19 (57.9%) output at the stripe. Georgetown limited itself to seven turnovers while DePaul gave up the ball 12 times.
The Hoyas will look to make it a two-game winning streak when they visit St. John’s on Sunday.
Final: Georgetown 81, DePaul 76
Ewing and the Hoyas win their first Big East game since 2021. Blue Demons were poor on the defensive end, couldn’t stop fouling and the offense went cold late.
The worst loss of the Tony Stubblefield era. Gibson was the only bright spot with 24.
— Lawrence Kreymer (@kreyme8) January 25, 2023
Georgetown snaps 29-game Big East losing streak with win over DePaul | The Athletic
So here’s the thing about being Georgetown, a formerly big bad program that relished its role as a basketball bully for the better part of three decades: when you’re terrible, no one is going to feel bad for you. And so when you are at the lowest point in your modern basketball history, in the midst of a 29-game Big East losing streak, and when you do finally break it, in what is otherwise a moment of relief and even joy for players, coaches, and fans, everyone is just going to make fun of you even more.
And so it was during and after Tuesday night’s win over DePaul: a deluge of Twitter irony and digital Bronx cheers that put the spotlight on the Hoyas in a way that almost felt worse than if they had just quietly lost another conference game. Still, obviously, better to win.
The Hoyas won for the first time in Big East play since March 13, 2021, when they beat Creighton to capture the conference tournament championship. The win Tuesday, which ended the longest skid in the history of the conference, also snapped a 10-game losing streak this season.
After the surprise conference title, the Hoyas finished 0-19 in the Big East last season, leading to calls for Georgetown legend Ewing to be fired.
While the win will do nothing to alleviate the pressure on sixth-year coach Patrick Ewing, it is a nice reward for the Hoyas’ roster. Primo Spears led the way with 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting against the Blue Demons while Brandon Murray and Akok Akok each added 12. Georgetown hit 27 of 41 free throws in the game as DePaul was whistled for a whopping 30 fouls.
Three DePaul players fouled out, and another two ended the game with four fouls. The foul-fest made for a game that was not aesthetically pleasing, but any win is a good win for Georgetown at this point, and this was the Hoyas’ first victory since Dec. 7.
Umoja Gibson finished with 24 points on 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) shooting, Javan Johnson added 13 points and Da’Sean Nelson had nine points off the bench for the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7), who had their three-game win streak against the Hoyas snapped.
Georgetown made seven of its first 11 field-goal attempts of the second half to flip a 37-36 deficit into a 55-46 lead with 12:44 remaining as DePaul battled foul trouble with four of their starters logging at least three personals.
The Blue Demons battled back with a 12-2 push to take a one-point lead entering the under-eight timeout. Both sides jostled for a cushion until Akok Akok drilled a corner three to put the Hoyas ahead 65-60 with 5:29 to play.
DePaul went into halftime with a 37-36 lead over Georgetown and before Tuesday’s loss, the Blue Demons were undefeated on the year when leading opponents at the break.
The second half started off slow for the Blue Demons and they were outscored by the Hoyas 17-9 in the first few minutes, taking a 53-46 lead.
Late in the second half, the Hoyas went on a 12-0 run and held the Blue Demons’ offense scoreless for nearly three minutes.
Just as the game seemed out of reach, DePaul made it interesting, with a run of its own.
DePaul scored off a fast break layup by Gibson, followed by a three-pointer from junior guard Caleb Murphy, but Georgetown clinched the game on a pair of free throws with under 10 seconds remaining, sealing up the 81-76 final score.
A lot of Hoyas fans are snarking on this photo, but they look like they’re happy and having fun. Sports are supposed to be fun. So, to me, it’s just nice to see them all smiling for a day.
— John Biemer (@john_biemer) January 25, 2023
Georgetown was already eliminated from contention for a regular season title and an at-large NCAA bid entering this game, yet Ewing’s team kept fighting. Even on Saturday on the road at then number 8 Xavier, the Hoyas weren’t out of that contest until the closing minutes. Through most of the second half, it looked like DePaul was a three pointer or two away from hanging another loss on the Hoyas yet the men in gray persisted.
The Blue Demons were not the only losers leaving Capitol One Arena, the men in striped shirts also struggled. John Gaffney, Jeffrey Anderson, and Tommy Morrisey took matters into their own hands calling 48 fouls (30 on DePaul). While it didn’t necessarily impact the result as Georgetown was the better team, it’s a reminder once again of the questionable quality of referees in the Big East (and college basketball as a whole).
Happy for you all. Hoya Saxa.
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) January 25, 2023