Georgetown stops slide with 70-60 win over Louisville
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
LOUISVILLE -- Eight minutes before tip-off, the video screens at Freedom Hall cut to live coverage of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino's pregame talk in the locker room.
With 11th-ranked Georgetown in town, the Cardinals hardly needed extra motivation. But Pitino took nothing for granted.
With an evangelist's zeal, he reminded his team that legions of Louisville faithful had taken two-hour bus rides just to see this game, the second-to-last to be played at venerable Freedom Hall.
And he told his players exactly how they were going to win: Not with fancy behind-the-back passes, he said, but with defense.
"Great defense!" he added. And the capacity crowd of 19,917 roared.
The plan worked for one half. But Louisville's vaunted press fell apart in the second half as Georgetown's Austin Freeman went on a scoring tear and led the Hoyas to a 70-60 victory, halting a two-game slide that threatened to scuttle a promising season.
Freeman scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, when Georgetown blew open the game with a 21-2 run after trailing, 35-29, at the break.
With 13 NBA scouts on hand, the game was expected to showcase two of the Big East's more formidable sophomores -- Georgetown's 6-foot-11 center Greg Monroe and Louisville's beefier, 6-9 forward Samardo Samuels.
Monroe proved the bigger man, scoring 16 points, grabbing 14 of Georgetown's 33 rebounds while dishing out five assists.
Samuels was forgettable in nearly as many regards, managing just six rebounds and 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
Pitino put it bluntly: "He was just playing against a guy who was playing better. [Monroe] had 5 assists, 14 rebounds, 1 steal -- one heck of a performance. Give credit where credit is due."
It was a victory the Hoyas (19-7, 9-6) needed badly, having lost their last two and, with that, considerable stature in the Big East.