WASHINGTON -- Guard Markel Starks scored 21 points and guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 12 as the Georgetown Hoyas conquered early offensive struggles and the DePaul Blue Demons for a 61-54 win on Tuesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
Spurred on by their backcourt pairing, the Hoyas (9-3, 1-0) took the lead for good during a 25-8 run overlapping halftime. Georgetown wrapped up 2013 winning eight of nine games, including its opening game in the retooled conference, and its 13th straight victory over the Blue Demons.
Guard Billy Garrett scored 17 points and guard Brandon Young had 13 for the Blue Demons (8-6, 0-1), who entered
having won four of five games. Playing its third straight road game, DePaul shot 32.7 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers. Forward Cleveland Melvin shot 2 of 12 from the field for six points, 10 below his season average.
Starks, who played all 40 minutes, has tied or led the Hoyas in scoring in each of the last four games. The senior guard scored 11 of 13 points for the Hoyas over a nine-minute section of the first half before help arrived. Georgetown trailed by eight in the first half before entering halftime on a 14-2 run for a 29-25 lead.
DePaul outrebounded the Hoyas 39-33 and remained in contact with 14 second-chance points, but offset that production by missing half of its 26 free-throw attempts. Young's jumper cut Georgetown's lead to 43-40 midway through the second half. The Hoyas countered with an 11-2 spurt, including two baskets from Starks for a 54-42 lead.
The first half consisted of scoring droughts, many turnovers and a wild final two minutes. DePaul started 1 of 12 from the field and went nearly minutes without a field goal, but pulled in front with 12 straight points and 23-15 on guard Durrell McDonald's layup with 3:23 remaining.
The Hoyas committed 13 of their 16 turnovers before halftime and had their own stretch of misfiring before closing the half on a 14-2 spurt.
Smith-Rivera returned to the starting lineup following a one-game benching for returning late to school following the Christmas holiday. The sophomore guard's 3-pointer put the Hoyas in front for good at 24-23.
Forward Aaron Bowen's wild heave from beyond the arc at the buzzer fell as Georgetown entered halftime leading 29-25.
NOTES: Reserve C Moses Ayegba had three blocks and started the second half for Georgetown in place of Joshua Smith, who had five points and one rebound in 14 minutes. ... DePaul had 12 offensive rebounds vs. two for the Hoyas. ... Georgetown next hosts St. John's on Saturday, the same day DePaul wraps up a four-game road swing at Marquette.