By BILLY HEYEN
Syracuse (5-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t keep up with former Big East rival Georgetown (7-3) on Saturday in Washington, D.C., as the Orange fell 89-79 to the Hoyas. SU got big numbers from Elijah Hughes in the first half and Buddy Boeheim in the second half, but the Orange couldn’t find enough secondary scoring to keep up.
Here are four takeaways from Georgetown’s win over Syracuse.
Georgetown’s been without last year’s Big East Freshman of the Year, James Akinjo, for three games now. In his absence, Mac McClung has stepped up. His first half Saturday had any number of highlights worth pointing out, but let’s stick with two.
First, a graceful layup finish led Fox play-by-play man Gus Johnson to call him, “Mac daddy.” Then, at the first-half buzzer, McClung pulled up from the top of the arc and swished a 3-pointer. He had 21 points in the first half as the Hoyas went into the break on a 14-2 run to lead 48-36.
McClung dribbled right at the top of the arc before pulling up to drain another 3-pointer on his first shot of the second half, too. He was joined in double figures by Jagan Mosley, Terrell Allen and Omer Yurtseven as the Hoyas held onto their first-half edge to get the home win. McClung finished with a game-high 26 points.
The Hughes or Boeheim show
Just like a week ago in Atlanta, Elijah Hughes came out smoking hot. He nailed a 3-pointer to open his scoring, then pulled up at the foul line for his second-straight make to start the game.
In general, Syracuse’s whole offense in the first half was run by Hughes. He could get whatever shot he wanted whenever he wanted, making both 3s and fadeaways from near the lane. At the break, Hughes had 18 as he continued to show his importance to the Orange.
“We can’t stop (Hughes),” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing told the broadcast at the end of the first half. “He’s a great player.”
Hughes came out of the break more passive, though, and took only one shot in the first more than 10 minutes of the second half, a missed 3-pointer. Just like at Georgia Tech, when Hughes went off in the first half before Buddy Boeheim took over in the second, that happened again at Georgetown.
Buddy didn’t score in the first half, but he scored 25 points in the second half, hardly hitting any rim on his 3-point attempts. But with Hughes a non-factor (although he finished with nine assists) on the second-half score sheet, the one or the other approach couldn’t deliver this time.
Marek Dolezaj continues to show confidence driving to his right, an option Syracuse’s offense didn’t necessarily expect to have. Three of his five first-half field goals came on strong righty finishes through contact from outside the right block.
Dolezaj’s value to the Orange showed up when he went to the bench late in the first half with three fouls, too. After Dolezaj sat down, the Hoyas went on a 14-2 run to go to the break up 12.
Dolezaj took the first shot of the second half, a hook shot from the right block, but he couldn’t get it to go. He used a good up-fake midway through the second half to finish inside, but he wasn’t able to find the same offensive success after the break. Dolezaj finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Georgetown moved the ball well against the 2-3 zone, utilizing the high post effectively to create open looks. That included both numerous makes on jumpers from the 15-foot range, but also quick kickouts to the open player to keep the ball cycling and moving faster than SU’s guards.
On McClung’s 3-pointer at the end of the first half, the Orange’s perimeter defense again let it down. Instead of stepping up to stifle McClung further from the basket, Joe Girard III was caught too deep, leaving McClung room to drain the triple.
The Orange continued to be burned by 3-pointers in the second half, as the Hoyas’ action at the foul line and along the baseline set up kick outs to shooters who continued to be open. Then when Syracuse was forced into its full-court press, Georgetown broke it a number of times for layups.
Georgetown finished with a season-high 11 made 3-pointers, finishing 11-of-25 (44 percent) from beyond the arc.