WASHINGTON (AP)—Georgetown and South Florida shouldn’t be playing such interesting games. One is the current cream of the Big East crop, while the other struggles every year to avoid the basement.
Yet, for the third time in the three years since joining the conference, the Bulls gave the Hoyas all they could handle. On Tuesday night, No. 6 Georgetown rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit and couldn’t put the game away until the final two minutes in a 63-53 win.
“Georgetown is a very good team, but that doesn’t mean we have to come out here and be scared of them,” said USF center Kentrell Gransberry, who had 13 points and nine rebounds going toe-to-toe with 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert. “We just wanted to come out here and fight hard and give ourselves a chance to win, and I thought we did that.”
DaJuan Summers bailed out the Hoyas with a career-high 24 points and nine rebounds. The sophomore forward, who is recovering from a sprained ankle, and Hibbert (13 points, eight rebounds) were essentially the only Georgetown players of note on a night in which the team shot a season-low 39 percent.
“He was terrific on both ends of the floor,” Hibbert said. “He was hustling, getting rebounds, making the extra play. He was really the heart and soul of this game.”
Georgetown (19-2, 9-1) also outrebounded South Florida 43-27 to win its sixth straight game and 18th in a row at home.
“Winning is important. Winning is good. You guys can talk about good win, bad win, ugly win,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III told reporters. “We win. We have to learn and we have to grow from it.”
Summers topped his previous high of 20 points against North Carolina in last year’s NCAA tournament.
Dominique Jones scored 15 points to lead the Bulls (10-13, 1-9), who have lost nine straight.
“I think even though we’re not seeing the ‘W’ behind the games, I think we see a team that isn’t disconcerted,” USF coach Stan Heath said.
For a while, it seemed the Bulls were capable of pulling a repeat of their 63-56 stunner over then-No. 20 Georgetown in Tampa two years ago, the last time the teams met. Or perhaps the 50-47 scare they put into the Hoyas in Washington earlier that season.
Gransberry outplayed Hibbert early, and his feed to Mobolaji Ajayi for a layup gave the Bulls a 13-3 lead. Orane Chin’s jumper made the score 22-13 with eight minutes left in the half. At the time, the Bulls were shooting 77 percent.
Enough of that craziness. The Bulls missed their next nine shots. The Hoyas went on a 12-0 run—with Summers and Hibbert scoring all the points—to take the lead for good. Hibbert added another basket in the final minute of the half to give Georgetown a 27-24 lead at the break.
Still, the Hoyas couldn’t sustain any momentum. Austin Freeman’s 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run to make the score 37-29, but the lead didn’t start to look comfortable until Vernon Macklin’s layup put Georgetown ahead 56-42 with 6:02 to play.
Even then, the Bulls came back with a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to seven in the last two minutes. Hibbert stopped the charge with a hook shot, and Summers followed with a 14-footer that finally allowed the home crowd to relax.
“I felt that we owed them one, obviously, from two years ago,” Hibbert said. “We came into the game thinking we had to come out strong. We came out a little lax at first, but we picked it up.”