WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chris Wright and Georgetown put on a show for the commander in chief.
With President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden seated in the front row, the No. 7 Hoyas literally stole the game from No. 8 Duke, forcing five turnovers in a two-minute, first-half spurt on the way to an 89-77 victory Saturday.
It couldn’t have been a much bigger day for Georgetown: the president attending his first Hoyas game, the first sellout of the season in the 20,000-seat Verizon Center, a crowd mostly sporting “We Are Georgetown” T-shirts in a school-sponsored “gray out,” the 200th win for coach John Thompson III, the launch of an initiative for Darfur schools, and, of course, a dominant program from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the building.
Wright seemed pumped for it all, scoring 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting and making two defensive plays that helped ignite an 18-3 run and gave the Hoyas the lead for good in the first half. Greg Monroe also scored 21, and Austin Freeman added 20 points for Georgetown (16-4), which shot 77 percent in the first half and 72 percent for the game.
Duke committed 15 turnovers – one fewer than Georgetown – but they came in bunches in rare series of breakdowns from coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s team.
The key first-half sequence began when Wright blocked Smith from behind on an outside jump shot, then seconds later stole the ball from Smith under the basket. Then came turnovers by Miles Plumlee, Smith and two by Scheyer, including a charging call. Jerrelle Benimon and Hollis Thompson each got a steal during the run, a needed boost from the thin Georgetown bench.
By the time it was over, Duke had gone nearly four minutes without a field goal, and Georgetown led 34-20.
Georgetown went 17 for 22 from the field in the first half and led 46-33 at the break.
The Blue Devils tried in vain to make a game of it in the second half. A pair of 3-pointers in the first couple minutes cut the lead to seven, but two more turnovers led to a 6-0 run and restored Georgetown’s 13-point lead.
The Blue Devils cut the deficit to seven once more at 52-45, but Monroe stopped that momentum with a spin move in the paint and a big pump of the arm to celebrate. There were plenty of free throws from there in a game that had nearly as many fouls (52) as rebounds (54).
The game provided a tough break for both schools from their demanding conference schedules. It was their fourth meeting in five years, with the home team winning each time.
Thompson improved to 200-97, including six seasons at Georgetown and four at Princeton.
The schools used the game to help publicize a new initiative to raise money for schools in refugee camps in the Darfur region of Sudan. NBA star Tracy McGrady, who has traveled to Darfur and helped start the campaign, also attended the game.