Georgetown is alone on top of the Big East, but it will have to figure out a way to win at West Virginia if it hopes to stay there.
The ninth-ranked Hoyas will be trying to avoid a second straight road defeat on Saturday when they visit the streaking Mountaineers.
Georgetown (15-2, 5-1) is the only team in the conference with just one loss. The Hoyas won their first three Big East games before a 69-60 loss at then-No. 15 Pittsburgh on Jan. 14.
Georgetown has won twice at home since then, beating Notre Dame 84-65 last Saturday and Syracuse 64-62 in overtime on Monday. The Hoyas are 10-0 on their own court, but 4-2 on the road, including an 85-71 loss on Dec. 22 at Memphis - currently the top-ranked team in the nation.
They are averaging only 64.7 points in their six road games, more than 13 points fewer than at home. Improving those fortunes likely won’t be easy at West Virginia, where the Hoyas have lost twice since a 69-67 victory on March 3, 2003.
The Mountaineers (15-4, 4-2) are 9-0 this season at the WVU Coliseum, where they are averaging 86.4 points—over 17 more than on the road. They can tie the Hoyas for first place with a win.
On Saturday, West Virginia will have to contend with a Georgetown defense that is allowing opponents to shoot just 35.7 percent, the lowest mark in the nation. The Hoyas are yielding a league-low 57.5 points per game and are shooting 50.8 percent, good for third in the country.
Jeremiah Rivers and Patrick Ewing Jr. boosted Georgetown’s defense against the Orange with their play off the bench. They helped the Hoyas hold Syracuse without a basket in the final 2 minutes of the second half and in overtime.
“Those two, just the effort and the work was terrific,” coach John Thompson III said. “‘Spark’ would be an understatement.”
Roy Hibbert, who leads the Hoyas with 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, had 15 points and nine boards, and Jonathan Wallace chipped in 15 points.
“We expect to win close games,” Thompson said. “We’ve done it a lot over the years, and when we get in what many would perceive to be tight situations I don’t think we tense up too much. I think we realize at that point is when we have to focus and execute.”
The Mountaineers have won four straight, including Wednesday’s 66-64 win over Marshall. Da’Sean Butler hit the winning jumper in the lane with 6 seconds left and scored 18 points for West Virginia.
Butler is averaging a team-best 16.3 points over his last four games.
“It’s just Da’Sean doing what he does best,” forward Joe Alexander said. “Da’Sean’s a very underrated player in this league. Hopefully we’ll see more of (this) the rest of the year.”
Alexander returned after missing last Sunday’s win at South Florida with a groin injury and scored nine points. Alex Ruoff, who averages a team-high 15.8 points, had 11 points and 11 rebounds but was limited to two points after halftime.
Hibbert had 20 points and Wallace added 14 as Georgetown won last season’s meeting with West Virginia 71-53 on Feb. 12 in Washington.