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Marquette-Georgetown Preview

AP - Sports

Georgetown is proving a much better team than prognosticators figured when they left the Hoyas out of the AP's preseason poll.

It's tough to figure which Marquette team will show up on a given night.

The No. 9 Hoyas host the No. 20 Golden Eagles on Wednesday night in a Big East showdown.

Originally picked to finish 10th in the conference, Georgetown (12-1, 2-0) is now in the Top 10 nationally. The Hoyas have climbed in the rankings each week since entering the Top 25 the first week of December, but aren't placing much stock in the newfound respect.

"It's definitely nice to get the recognition, because coming into the season, nobody thought we were going to be anything,'' said senior guard Jason Clark, who is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game and scored a game-high 16 in Saturday's 49-40 win over Providence.

"I try to tell our guys that rankings don't matter. Rankings don't matter at all. If it was up to me, I'd keep us out of the Top 25 all season.''

Coach John Thompson III said it's difficult to ignore Georgetown's 10-game winning streak, which includes victories over then-No. 8 Memphis on Nov. 23, then-No. 12 Alabama on Dec. 1 and then-No. 4 Louisville last Wednesday.

"Walking into this year, the world probably knew very little about our team, so I'm not surprised that's where we were picked-slash-projected,'' Thompson said. "That being said, this group has to come together, this group has to work, and we'll see where we end up.''

That statement could also apply to Marquette.

The Golden Eagles (12-2, 1-0) have been inconsistent, splitting their last four games after beginning the season 10-0. They fell 67-59 at unranked LSU on Dec. 19, then bounced back three days later with a 64-50 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

One week after beating the Panthers, Marquette shot a season-low 32.2 percent and hit only 53.3 percent of its free throws in a 74-57 loss to Vanderbilt.

Leading scorer Darius Johnson-Odom - averaging 17.9 points - went 5 for 15 and had 12 points in that Dec. 29 defeat.

"Everybody was down on themselves after the loss, just trying to figure out ways for us to get better,'' Johnson-Odom said. "And that's what we did the next day. We did a lot of drills, a lot of five-on-five drills and a lot of competing."

The work led to an 81-77 win over Villanova on Sunday as Johnson-Odom tied his season high with 24 points.

"I was extremely pleased with how they responded (to the loss to Vanderbilt), with Darius being at the top of the list,'' coach Buzz Williams said. "I think he played really well offensively because he played extremely hard. He played for other guys on our team. The ball never stuck in his hands. And I thought he was as good as he's been in a long, long time defensively.''

Johnson-Odom scored 20 points the last time Marquette faced the Hoyas - on Feb. 13 - but Georgetown pulled away in the second half for a 69-60 home victory, its second straight win in the series.

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