The ninth-ranked Hoyas and No. 15 Fighting Irish open their Big East schedule Thursday night trying to figure out how to slow down the other.
Both teams enter ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring, with Georgetown (11-1) averaging 81.0 points and Notre Dame (11-1) at 81.3 per game. The Hoyas are also second in overall shooting (52.8 percent), fourth in three-point shooting (42.6), and 10th in assists (221).
A program more known as a factory for producing NBA centers, Georgetown has relied more on the perimeter thus far following Greg Monroe’s departure to the NBA.
Georgetown was impressive in an 86-69 rout at then-No. 16 Memphis on Thursday. Senior Austin Freeman went 9 of 12 from the field and scored 24 points as the Hoyas shot 56.9 percent, went 5 for 11 from beyond the arc and totaled 18 assists.
Freeman is averaging 18.9 points and shooting 56.8 percent from the field, including 49.2 from 3-point range. Backcourt partner Jason Clark is contributing 13.7 points per game, making 52.1 percent of his shots - 44.8 from beyond the arc. The Hoyas make 8.4 3-pointers per game.
The Fighting Irish are off to their best start since going 13-1 in 2006-07. While they lack a marquee victory over a ranked opponent, losing 72-58 to then-No. 17 Kentucky on Dec. 8 in their only game against a top 25 team, they carry a three-game winning streak into this contest after routing UMBC 93-53 last Wednesday and averaging 88.0 points in those victories.
“We’ve maxed our experience out. I’m proud of how they handled the 12 non-league games,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We’ve put ourselves in a great position before we head into league play…the Big East makes or breaks you and our guys know what’s coming.”
Like Georgetown, Notre Dame has an experience-laden lineup. Senior forward Tim Abromaitis, who had 21 points against UMBC, is averaging a team-high 16.1 points and one of four Irish players scoring in double figures.
Ben Hansbrough has a team-high 32 3-pointers, and five players have at least 29 assists. Notre Dame entered the week second in Division I with a 1.76-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish also have done significant damage at the foul line, outscoring opponents 245-118 while converting 73.8 percent of their free throws.
Abromaitis, Hansbrough and fellow senior Carleton Scott combined for 57 points in Notre Dame’s 78-64 win at Georgetown last season, with the trio making 21 of 37 shots. Clark hit four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points, but Freeman was limited to five in a reserve role for the Hoyas.
The Irish have won consecutive games over Georgetown, which leads the overall series 14-12.