Georgetown earned its first ranking in more than two months thanks to a lengthy winning streak against Big East opponents. Maintaining that run will be a big challenge during a three-game stretch against some of the conference’s top teams.
The first of those games comes Wednesday, when the 22nd-ranked Hoyas go for their sixth straight victory as they try to spoil Louisville’s night to honor former coach Denny Crum.
The five consecutive wins for the Hoyas (16-5, 6-2) have all come against teams with losing records in conference play, including Thursday’s 72-48 victory over St. John’s.
Their next three games, however, are against three of the top five teams in the conference standings. After facing Louisville (16-7, 6-3), Georgetown will host No. 11 Marquette on Saturday and West Virginia on Monday—teams with a combined 14-5 league record.
The first game of this stretch could be made that much tougher because it should be an emotional night at Freedom Hall, where the home floor will be dedicated as Denny Crum Court in a pregame ceremony.
The Hall of Fame coach led the Cardinals to 675 victories and two national titles before retiring after the 2000-01 season.
“Coach Crum is Louisville basketball,” said Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, who replaced Crum. “He’s built an unbelievable tradition.”
Louisville would like nothing more than to honor Crum by ending its streak of 12 consecutive losses against ranked opponents.
The Hoyas are outscoring the opposition by an average of 16.6 points during their current winning streak, moving back into the Top 25 this week for the first time since the Nov. 27 poll when they were No. 18.
Jeff Green has keyed the recent surge, averaging 20.0 points over the last three games, a big boost from his 12.4 season mark. The junior forward scored a career-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds versus St. John’s.
The Hoyas, who overcame a 10-point first-half deficit with a 22-5 run early in the second half, tied a season high by forcing 18 turnovers.
“On the defensive end, I felt we communicated very well,” Green said. “Jon (Wallace), Jessie (Sapp) and myself made a couple of big plays. We made all of the hustle plays. If we keep communicating and make all of the hustle plays we can play like we did in the second half.”
Wallace, who is averaging 11.5 points, was the only other Georgetown player to score in double figures with 13 points. Junior center Roy Hibbert had only eight points and three rebounds, well below his season averages, after scoring a season-high 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds in a Jan. 27 win over Cincinnati.
Georgetown has won three straight conference road games, but will face a Louisville squad that is 13-3 at home this season.
The Cardinals are trying to bounce back after having a four-game winning streak snapped with a 57-53 defeat at Villanova on Saturday. The Cardinals scored their second-fewest points of the season on 34.5 percent (19-for-55) shooting from the field and were outrebounded 42-27.
Earl Clark scored 14 points off the bench for Louisville, but none of the starters hit double figures. Leading scorer Terrence Williams, who averages 13.0 points, was held to nine, ending a streak of eight straight double-digit performances.
Senior center David Padgett was limited to four points after averaging 16.3 in the previous three contests.
“He just had an off day,” Pitino said. “He’s been playing well.”
Georgetown leads the all-time series 3-2 over Louisville and all of those wins came in the last three matchups, including a 70-63 victory on Dec. 5, 2000 in the most recent meeting.