With Austin Freeman out with illness, late-season slump continues for Georgetown in loss to West Virginia

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. -- With Austin Freeman in the lineup, there has always been a sense this season that Georgetown could spontaneously erupt in a scoring barrage to erase any deficit, no matter how lopsided the score.

But Freeman was under a doctor's care Monday night, ailing with what appeared to be a stomach virus, while his fellow Hoyas struggled to halt a late-season slide against 10th-ranked West Virginia.

Taking on the Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum represents a daunting task with a full complement of starters. But without Freeman, Georgetown's most explosive scorer, the Hoyas had no shot, literally and figuratively, and fell, 81-68.

Georgetown, which started the season 11-1, has lost four of its last five and, this week, dropped from 11th to 19th in the national rankings.

With one regular season game remaining, Saturday against Cincinnati at Verizon Center, Georgetown (19-9, 9-8) now runs the risk of tumbling from the top eight in the Big East standings and losing out on the conference tournament's first-round bye that until recently seemed ensured.

West Virginia (23-6, 12-5), meantime, clinched a double-bye and will sail directly into the tournament's quarterfinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.

It wasn't simply that Georgetown missed Freeman's offensive proficiency against West Virginia. (Before falling ill, he accounted for 28 percent of Georgetown's points in Big East play).

In losing their shooting star, the Hoyas seemed to lose their identity, as well, with uncertainty permeating nearly every facet of their game -- particularly in the first half, in which they turned the ball over 11 times to West Virginia's two.

"Obviously [Freeman's absence] hurts a lot," said Coach John Thompson III, clearly concerned about his junior guard, who made the trip with the team to West Virginia on Sunday but, after becoming increasingly ill, was driven back to Washington on Monday morning and admitted to Georgetown University Hospital for tests.

"This team has been put together with Austin as one of the focal points of what we do."

Thompson said he had no update on Freeman's condition but said he was hopeful he would be able to rejoin the team soon.

"I can't give you a timetable," Thompson added. "It's a huge level of concern. We wouldn't have sent him home, and he wouldn't be in the hospital now, if we weren't concerned."

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