Porter leads No 9 Georgetown past Villanova 67-46Georgetown center Henry Sims (14) battles for the ball against Villanova's Maurice Sutton (25) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON (AP) Otto Porter had to leave the game after 34 seconds, the victim of a flagrant elbow from Maurice Sutton that left the Georgetown freshman lying on the court and bleeding from the mouth. So much for the glory of a making only a second appearance in the starting lineup.
He was back in a few minutes, however, motivated by the nasty hit and ready to help lead the Hoyas to some of their best basketball of the season. His backdoor layup and two free throws gave No. 9 Georgetown a 17-point first-half lead, and his fadeaway 3-pointer with a suspenseful bounce off the front of the rim stopped the momentum when Villanova was mounting a challenge.
Porter finished with an eventful 15 points and six rebounds, and Jason Clark also had 15 points and six rebounds in Georgetown's 67-46 win over the Wildcats on Saturday.
''Yeah, I was fired up,'' Porter said. ''And so were my teammates. I think they kind of read my mind.''
Added Clark: ''When the game starts off like that - we're a family. We have each other's back, so we're not going to let that happen to our teammate.''
The victory moves the Hoyas (21-6, 11-5) into sole possession of fourth place in the Big East, one-half game ahead of Cincinnati and South Florida, who play Sunday. The top four teams get a double-bye in the conference tournament
Dominic Cheek scored 19 points to lead the Wildcats (11-17, 4-12), who have lost four straight and can't seem to put together a healthy lineup. Maalik Wayns returned after missing three games with a sprained left knee, but he missed badly on his first shot and finished 1 for 10 from the field, scoring three points.
''You see those drives where he's not elevating,'' Villanova coach Jay Wright said. ''He's getting the ball stuck under the rim. He's not 100 percent, but we needed him out there. He just needs to play. He just needs to get confidence in his knee.''
JayVaughn Pinkston was able to play only 2 minutes after he hurt himself by landing on a ball while dunking during warmups, and James Bell missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.
''We're obviously piece-mealing things here,'' Wright said. ''That's not an excuse. Other teams have been able to (overcome) that. We just haven't been able to do it recently.''
Porter was in the starting lineup in place of Markel Starks, who didn't play at all after apparently finding his way into the doghouse of coach John Thompson III. Porter's only previous start this season came last month when Starks had a stomach ailment and sat out against DePaul.
Asked why Starks was benched Saturday, Thompson: ''I just wanted to start Otto and not play Starks.'' The coach declined to elaborate, other than to confirm that Starks is healthy. Asked if Starks will play Monday against No. 20 Notre Dame, Thompson said: ''We'll see.''
The Hoyas outrebounded the Wildcats 43-25 to improve to 14-1 at home, while Villanova is 1-9 in true road games. Georgetown allowed the Wildcats to shoot just 28 percent, quite a turnaround from the 61 percent that Seton Hall shot in its 18-point win over the Hoyas on Tuesday.
Sutton's elbow found Porter while they were fighting for rebounding position on the game's first shot. Officials reviewed the video and whistled Sutton for a flagrant foul, giving the Hoyas two shots and the ball. The score got to 6-0 by the time the Wildcats had their first possession.
For the next 14 minutes, Georgetown swarmed defensively and moved the ball well to set up open jump shots and backdoor layups. Villanova was 2 for 9 from the field with four turnovers after 8 1/2 minutes, and the Hoyas pushed the lead to 25-8 on Porter's free throws with 5:30 to go in the half.
The Wildcats started forcing turnovers and got back into the game, going on a 12-2 run ignited by Cheek's steal-and-dunk. The lead was only four when Cheek hit a 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining, but Porter made it 30-23 at halftime with the 3-pointer that the fell the right way when it hit the rim.
''That was a big play,'' Wright said. ''Because that was the end of the shot clock. We had had a good defensive possession, they didn't have anywhere to go, and we just gave him a little bit too much space there. That was a big shot.''
Joseph White can be reached at https://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP