Clark scored a career-high 31 points and freshman forward Otto Porter grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds to help the No. 10 Hoyas grind out a second road victory in three days, 83-75, despite the absence of starting point guard Markel Starks.
Georgetown vs. DePaul: Jason Clark helps Hoyas pick up another Big East road win
Clark connected on 11 of 14 shots, including five of seven three point attempts, and added four steals to lift Georgetown (15-3, 5-2 Big East) to its 11th straight win over the Blue Demons (10-8, 1-5).
Clark, the Hoyas’ leading scorer, entered the game averaging 15.4 points.
“I’ve been going through a stretch where I haven’t been making a lot of three pointers,” said Clark, who had made a combined 6 of 32 shots from beyond the arc in the previous nine games. “But today they were falling.”
The same, however, couldn’t be said about his foul shots. Clark made four of nine free throws; the Hoyas converted only 16 of 28 (57.1 percent) from the line, underscoring a potentially troubling trend.
Including Tuesday’s effort, the Hoyas are shooting 61 percent from the free throw line over the past six games.
“It does kind of get to you,” said Clark after he was asked if the team’s free throw struggles had become psychological. “We just have to get into the gym more and shoot your free throws and stay with your routine.”
The missed foul shots, coupled with a season-high 18 turnovers, allowed the Blue Demons to keep the game close late.
“Road wins in this league are very difficult to come by, and to that extent, it was a good game,” Coach John Thompson III said. “But I didn’t like our execution at the end on a lot of different fronts. We made that a lot harder than it had to be.”
DePaul’s Moses Morgan made a pair of three pointer sandwiched around a jumper by Cleveland Melvin (team-high 19 points) that pulled the hosts within 48-46 with 14:02 left.
That, however, was as close as the Blue Demons would get before an announced crowd of 8,322 at Allstate Arena. The Hoyas went on a 12-2 run capped by a Clark three-pointer with 9:39 remaining that put Georgetown ahead 60-48.
“It was a difficult game for him,” Thompson said of Clark. “He had to deal with their press and their pressure most of the time. But he was clearly in a groove. The ball was going in. Jason played very, very well in spite of those foul shots.”
Melvin and DePaul did just enough to hang around. But, in the end, they did not have an answer for Clark, whose previous career high of 28 came in the Maui Invitational against Chaminade.
“They weren’t easy shots,” DePaul Coach Oliver Purnell said of Clark’s performance. “He did not miss, then he got a few easy ones going to the basket. He had a big night.”
Georgetown was forced to make a last-minute adjustment to the starting lineup after the team arrived at the arena. Starks, Thompson said, was suffering from a stomach-related illness.
As a result, Porter started for the first time, and the primary ball-handling responsibilities fell to Clark.
“I don’t think it’s anything long term,” Thompson said of Starks, adding that he wasn’t sure what exactly was ailing the sophomore guard. “He said he wasn’t feeling well. Had been throwing up and having stomach issues. Once we got here, he told me he couldn’t play.”
Porter made the most of his 35 minutes. Fourteen of his rebounds came on the defensive glass.
It wasn’t pretty. But the Hoyas headed home with exactly what they had hoped to gain on this four-day road trip: a pair of victories over teams they were expected to beat.
“We’ve played a lot of games in a little bit of days,” Thompson said. “We’ve been out on the road for a while. So to go home with two victories is good.”
“But,” he added, “we have to be better.”