Feb. 7, 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -On a night when Louisville honored one of its greats, it was Georgetown that ended up turning back the clock.
The 22nd-ranked Hoyas continued their rise Wednesday night, easing by Louisville 73-65 for their sixth straight win.
"We are definitely settling into a groove and a lot of the experiences that we went through earlier in the year are paying off now," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III.
If the Hoyas (17-5, 7-2 Big East) keep dominant performances from center Roy Hibbert, their early season struggles may finally be behind them.
Hibbert controlled things at both ends of the floor, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while making 9-of-10 from the field and limiting Louisville center David Padgett to just one field goal.
"I just wanted to be dominant as much as I could," Hibbert said. "I was just open on the baseline ... and my teammates got me the ball down there."
Hibbert scored in a variety of ways, getting dunks, lay-ups and even mixing in a jump shot. He never tired despite playing a season-high 35 minutes and helped the Hoyas keep their composure whenever the Cardinals made a run.
"I just felt we needed to keep him in there," Thompson said. "His presence at both ends was felt. What I didn't want was David to get into a comfort zone. I felt Roy's size would kind of contain him a little bit."
Earl Clark tied a career-high with 14 points for Louisville (16-8, 6-4), who had been searching for a signature win to bolster its hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid. But the Cardinals shot just 33 percent from the floor in losing their 13th straight game to a ranked opponent, spoiling a night when Louisville named the floor at Freedom Hall in honor of former coach Denny Crum.
"We could have played them 10 times and they would have won nine," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "We would have had to play almost a perfect game to win."
The Cardinals were nearly perfect in one sense, committing a school-record low one turnover, setting a Big East record in the process. Still, it wasn't nearly enough to stop the Hoyas, who rarely let the Cardinals get off an uncontested shot and came up with every important rebound and loose ball.
The Hoyas outrebounded the Cardinals 35-30, outscored them 30-14 in the paint and shot 56 percent from the floor. Forward Jeff Green was nearly as hot as Hibbert, making 7-of-10 from the field and adding seven rebounds.
"We used our height advantage and they couldn't defend us," Green said. "We got stops on defense and ran our offense."
The Hoyas did whatever they wanted offensively, getting it inside to Hibbert and Green with ease. Whenever the Cardinals sent extra bodies to double-team, the Hoyas simply kicked it out for open 3-pointers.
The win was Georgetown's first by single digits this season. And while the Hoyas were never really threatened - Louisville never got closer than five in the second half - Georgetown responded each time the Cardinals made a run.
"We've been in this environment, in very difficult environments like this all year," Thompson said. "The crowd gets into it, they go on a run and our guys are used to that. We did a good job of just settling down."
Louisville pulled within 58-53 on a free throw by Edgar Sosa with under four minutes to play, but Hibbert dunked on Georgetown's next possession, and DaJuan Summers followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead up to 10. Louisville would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.
"We stuck together when they made runs," Hibbert said. "We didn't want to go back-and-forth. We wanted to keep it to our tempo."
As dominant as the Hoyas were, Thompson is wary of getting ahead of himself. Georgetown started the season ranked in the Top 10, only to fall all the way out of the rankings in December. They're back in the Top 25 and confident they're not the same unfocused bunch that stumbled out of the blocks three months ago.
"We're much more of a team," Hibbert said. "We've gotten older and we're smarter."
The Hoyas will need that maturity in the coming weeks, beginning Saturday against No. 11 Marquette.
"The games are getting tougher," Green said. "We've just got to keep playing this way. We can't let down."