The Hoyas (11-5, 1-2 Big East) fixed what ailed them and came away with their first Big East win.
Their victory leaves only St. John’s (11-5, 0-3) and DePaul winless in the conference and brings the series record against the Red Storm even tighter — St. John’s leads 59-55 in a rivalry that stretches back to 1909.
“Home cooking,” Coach Patrick Ewing said afterward with a laugh. “Being back at home, I think that also helped.”
The victory represented the best version of these undermanned Hoyas. Starting guard Mac McClung missed the conference-opening loss at Providence with an eye injury and was still out of sorts in Friday’s loss at Seton Hall. On Wednesday, after a few normal days of practice, he scored a game-high 24 points.
The supporting cast — the entire starting five scored in double figures — also pitched in. Junior wing Jamorko Pickett tallied the first double-double of his career with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Jagan Mosely had 12 points and seven assists.
Point guard Terrell Allen, a graduate transfer, had 16 points and four assists. Senior center Omer Yurtseven scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards.
“Yes, definitely,” Ewing said when asked if this was the type of balance his team needs moving forward. “It was a great win. Any win in the Big East is a good win, especially coming off those two losses that we had. Would still love Omer to play a little better, but the way that they played — frenetic — it was hard for him to get touches.”
St. John’s often double-teamed the 7-foot Yurtseven, forcing Georgetown to work the perimeter. The Hoyas thrived from beyond the arc, making 9 of 23 shots, the most threes in a game since they made 11 in a Dec. 14 win against Syracuse.
“They just looked like they played real loose and real free,” first-year St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “I don’t know if they shoot it like this all the time, but they couldn’t miss.”
Georgetown found a rhythm early, something the Hoyas were unable to manage in their first two conference games.
The Red Storm had just five field goals in the first 12 minutes and turned it over on seven of its first nine possessions, allowing Georgetown to get going in transition. The Hoyas went to McClung early, feeding the sophomore just inside the arc, but soon Mosely and Allen were getting everyone involved as the offense clicked. Georgetown took a 53-26 lead into intermission.
Georgetown rediscovered the ball movement that helped spark a six-game winning streak in December and had 14 assists on 16 made field goals in the first half with just three turnovers.
The Red Storm, meanwhile, wasn’t as careful. It had 10 turnovers at intermission, and poor ball security bled into a poor shooting night — it made just 8 of 31 attempts from the field (25.8 percent) in the first half. St. John’s had as many field goals at halftime (eight) as Georgetown had three-pointers.
“The biggest thing was our defense sparked our offense, then we started moving the ball around,” McClung said. “When you have guys like Jagan and Terrell, fourth- and fifth-year guys, you can’t say enough good things about them. They always make the right play. Playing with those guys is like a dream come true”
It was a deep ball from Allen that kicked off the Hoyas’ 16-0 run with seven minutes to go before intermission. McClung added another, Mosely had two, Yurtseven hit a pair of free throws and McClung barreled through the paint for a fast break to crank the lead to 29 with 3:27 left in the half.
St. John’s played with more heat in the second half, but the cushion was just too much. The closest the Red Storm would get was within 13 with just over 12 minutes to play, then again with just over five minutes remaining.
Both times, the Hoyas regained their footing by converting at the free throw line.
“That’s one of the things we talked about was that we can’t dig ourselves a hole,” Ewing said. “Tonight, we didn’t.”