By JOHN KEKIS, Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Georgetown coach John Thompson III wouldn't bite. He wasn't about to say: "This Carrier Dome rivalry is officially over."
He sure could have.
Thirty-three years after his father became persona non grata in Syracuse, Thompson and star Otto Porter added their names to the lore of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry.
Porter scored a career-high 33 points as the 11th-ranked Hoyas humbled No. 8 Syracuse 57-46 on Saturday.
It was the final game between Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) and Syracuse (22-5, 10-4) in the Carrier Dome as members of the same conference — the Orange are leaving the Big East in July to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I'm sure you're waiting for a Manley Field House statement," Thompson said with a smile. "You're not going to get it. We don't get frazzled too much. It's good to win here. We were the last team to win here, but there's still a lot of ball to play. It's one win."
The victory placed an emphatic stamp on the impending end of an era before an imposing Orange crowd. It snapped the Orange's 38-game home winning streak, the longest in the nation, and came 33 years after John Thompson Jr.'s Hoyas halted the Orange's 57-game home winning streak at Manley. Both streaks were school records in the respective buildings.
Porter's incredible play — open more often than not against Syracuse's 2-3 zone, he was 12 of 19, including five 3-pointers, and had a game-high five steals — came in front of a disappointed record crowd of 35,012, the largest ever to see a college basketball on a school campus. It was the fewest points scored at home by Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, which opened in 1980.
"Porter was so good today," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "He just dominated the game. He really won the game. He had to make plays and made them all day. Offensively, the games that we have lost we have struggled shooting the basketball, and today was no exception. I thought the game got away from us early."
Georgetown has held opponents under 60 points 17 times, allowing 56.1 points per game, with 11 of last 12 opponents shooting below 40 percent. Syracuse joined the list, shooting 17 of 50 (34 percent) and going 5 of 20 on 3-pointers.
"He (Porter) obviously had a great game, a great shooting game," said Syracuse senior guard Brandon Triche, who struggled in a 4-of-13 shooting performance, making just 1 of 7 from behind the arc. "We didn't take anything away. We didn't take his drive away. We didn't take his 3-point shot, midrange shot. Once he gets going, he's obviously going to be very hard to stop, especially playing zone."
Fittingly, Syracuse began its latest home win streak after a loss to Georgetown just over two years ago. That was Thompson III's first win in the Carrier Dome and a huge relief at the time. Like Boeheim, he heaped lavish praise on his star.
"It was special. That's the only way to categorize it," Thompson said of Porter's performance. "You saw the show that I saw. To play up here against that opponent, that's what players do, and he's a special player."
This one surely wasn't easy for the young Hoyas. The stands surrounding Jim Boeheim Court were jammed with 35,012 fans, who transformed the building into a raging sea of orange. Former star Carmelo Anthony's jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony with the Orange in the locker room holding a 23-21 lead after a late surge in the closing seconds of the opening half.
The game was there for the taking, it seemed.
Porter, who injured his right knee in a win over DePaul on Wednesday night, had other ideas. He was unstoppable after a slow start and was the only Georgetown player in double figures, putting the game away late.
After C.J. Fair stole an inbounds pass and fed Michael Carter-Williams for a slam dunk to move Syracuse within 41-37 with 6:48 to play, Porter hit a fallaway 3-pointer as he was fouled by Triche and hit the free throw for a four-point play.
"I don't know how that went in. I was speechless," Porter said. "We just stayed poised. We just went out there and played."
Just how intense the rivalry has been is reflected by Boeheim's record against the Hoyas. The second-winningest coach in Division I history, Boeheim is just 37-35 despite an overall record of 912-309, a 74.8 winning percentage.
Georgetown has won nine straight, the longest current winning streak in the league, and the Hoyas will host Syracuse in two weeks.
Fair had 13 points and seven rebounds and James Southerland scored 13 points to pace Syracuse, while Carter-Williams had seven points and five assists.
Syracuse rallied in the final minute of the first half to take a two-point lead, but the Hoyas erased the deficit quickly with a 10-2 spurt early in the second half keyed by Porter. He hit a 3 from the right wing, another from the left side, then stole a pass by Carter-Williams and hit a pullup jumper in the lane. D'Vaun Smith-Rivera's 3 from the left corner slammed both sides of the rim and dropped in for a 39-31 lead with 11:16 to play.
Southerland swished a 3 from the top of the key off a feed from Carter-Williams to stop the skid and Georgetown was called for a shot-clock violation when its slow-paced attack backfired, but the Orange could not muster another rally.
Syracuse used its home-crowd advantage — the Dome was rocking like the days of yesteryear — to run off a 10-2 spurt early. Triche and Southerland hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down court as the Hoyas sputtered, missing often in close and from afar. The Hoyas made just one basket, a foul-line jumper by Porter after a block by Fair — in the first 9 minutes while missing their first eight attempts from long range.
"Offensively, we did have them on the ropes in the first half," Triche said. "But we ended up shooting a bunch of jump shots (and missing), and they got right back in the game."
The play was spirited, as it usually is when these teams meet. But after a flurry of misses under the Georgetown basket, the Hoyas maintained possession and Porter began to display the form that has made him a favorite to win Big East player of the year honors.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore swished a 3 from the wing to start a 17-3 spurt in which he scored 14 points. He then converted a slam off a turnover by Rakeem Christmas to give the Hoyas their first lead, and hit another 3 and a baseline jumper to complete the rush and put Georgetown up 21-15 as a hush fell over the Dome.
Carter-Williams stopped the slide with a three-point play for the Orange. Fair followed with a baseline floater and Southerland drained a 3 at the shot-clock buzzer in the final seconds off a feed from Triche.
The Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was unmatched in its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s and helped transform the Big East into the behemoth it's been for so long. Future games between the teams — both schools have indicated they want to keep playing — will have a different feel after this season.
What a rivalry it's been.
The teams have played 88 times since 1930 and 20 of those games were decided by one or two points, and 12 were settled in overtime.
No wonder that students camped all week outside the Dome to be part of the crowd. Not only did they get to witness history, Boeheim and assistants Mike Hopkins and Adrian Autry stopped by on Friday with coffee and refreshments in appreciation of their support.
In that memorable game 33 years ago, the Hoyas beat Syracuse 52-50 in the last regularly scheduled game at Manley when Eric "Sleepy" Floyd made free throws with 5 seconds to play. Afterward, Thompson Jr. declared — "Manley Field House is now officially closed" — and a rivalry was born.
This was the 72nd crowd of greater than 30,000 for a Syracuse men's game, and the Hoyas were the opponent 17 times.
Not a bad way to go out.
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