Ewing and his staff had good reason to be worked up. Georgetown played as hard as it has all season and rode a strong shooting night to an 83-80 victory over the Bluejays, the Hoyas’ second win over a ranked team this season after one over then-No. 22 Texas in November.
It was Ewing’s first victory over Creighton in his three years helming the Hoyas, and his team stole the game playing exactly the way he wants it to — despite the fact that two of his starting guards, Mac McClung and point guard Terrell Allen, were sick and hadn’t practiced all week.
Georgetown (12-6, 2-3 Big East) was aggressive on defense. The ball moved without a hitch on offense. Omer Yurtseven and McClung turned in big performances and had crucial help from guards Jagan Mosely and Jahvon Blair. And to cap it all off, the Bluejays did their part and shot just 43.1 percent while allowing the Hoyas to shoot 51.7 percent from the field.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Creighton Coach Greg McDermott said.
The Hoyas played well in the first half, as they did on the road against then-No. 16 Villanova on Saturday, but this time they didn’t fade after halftime. Georgetown was more efficient on offense as Creighton (13-5, 2-3) kept missing, and McClung scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half despite playing fewer minutes because of foul trouble.
But against a smaller Bluejays roster, Yurtseven caused the most trouble. The 7-footer led five scorers in double figures with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and he repeatedly beat double teams in the post to notch his best Big East game yet.
“Yurtseven was a load in there,” McDermott said. “He’s physical. I think he’s as skilled a post player as there is in this league. They did a good job of isolating him down there.”
Said Ewing: “[Yurtseven] had a pretty good game today. He made some mistakes, but I’m a tough man to please. I see the potential in him. I see where he could be. He has to continue to grow, continue to work, stop taking some time off, cut that hair . . . ”
McClung, meanwhile, looked gassed even in the first half when he went to the bench and hung a towel over his head.
Mosely, a senior who has been a stabilizing presence after Georgetown lost four players to transfer, had 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting, four rebounds and four assists playing a full 40 minutes. Ewing called the guard the team MVP afterward. Blair added 12 points, and Allen had 10.
The game required so much effort that Allen, who told Ewing he had been feeling nauseous all game, finally walked off the court with 19 seconds left. Ewing said he received an IV after the game and was feeling better.
“He was feeling like he was going to throw up, so he went out. I guess [he] was looking for somewhere to throw up, and then he just laid down,” Ewing said.
Georgetown worked hard from the opening tip to keep up with Creighton, pulling smooth moves out of its back pockets such as a breakaway lay-in from Allen that had the announced crowd of 5,920 making a true ruckus for the first time with about eight minutes to play before intermission. Mosely stretched to his full height to nab a steal on the ensuing possession and chucked the ball to Blair, who missed a layup but was saved when Yurtseven streaked in for a putback dunk to put Georgetown ahead 24-22.
The back-and-forth continued in the second half with Georgetown weathering streaks with McClung on the bench and the type of small runs from Creighton that felled the Hoyas at Villanova.
“We didn’t break down,” Mosely said. “Against Nova we kind of broke down as a team. Today, I think we were up nine, they went on an 8-0 run, but we didn’t break after that. We came together and closed the game out.”
The Hoyas pushed their lead to nine with 5:48 to play after Mosely and Yurtseven combined for a 7-0 run. The Bluejays knocked down a jumper and two threes to narrow the margin again, but a Yurtseven floater with 1:37 to play put Georgetown up 76-72 and got the crowd on its feet.
The Hoyas hit 4 of 5 field goals in the final 3:25 while the Bluejays shot 4 for 9 in the same span, including two buckets that came when the game was already out of reach.
“As a team we had a slow start, and it was just like, all right, everybody has to get going,” Yurtseven said. “We have only seven, eight guys that can step up and get the job done. And that was it.”