So even having been on the floor the entire time since tip-off Saturday afternoon against Butler, it was Starks the Hoyas leaned on while clinging to a slim lead in the final minute. The point guard responded by dribbling to the left side of the floor, squaring up with defenders coming at him and calmly swishing a jumper to help preserve a 71-63 victory in front of 13,011 at Verizon Center.
On an afternoon when he was recognized before the game for joining Georgetown’s 1,000-point club, Starks finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, made 5 of 6 from the free throw line and added seven assists without a turnover in 40 minutes to help push the Hoyas (14-9, 5-6 Big East) to a third consecutive victory.
“Markel Starks doesn’t get tired,” Thompson said during the postgame news conference before turning to Starks and asking, “Playing 40 minutes is easy, right?”
“Very,” said Starks, who has scored at least 16 points in six straight games and played every minute of regulation for the fourth time this season.
Guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 18 points and five rebounds in 38 minutes, making all eight of his free throws. The sophomore has made 35 of his last 36 attempts at the line and converted 5 of 11 from the field against the Bulldogs (12-11, 2-9) after going 13 for 52 over his previous five games.
Senior forward Nate Lubick chipped in 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting with a game-high nine rebounds for the Hoyas, who finished ahead in rebounding, 31-30, after falling behind considerably in that category, including 8-1 offensively, during the early stages. The Hoyas also committed seven turnovers, matching their second fewest this season, for a second game in a row.
“We’re very hard to stop” with so few turnovers, Lubick said. “That just puts more a point of emphasis on the front court. We’ve got to rebound. [The guards] are in rhythm. These guys are making plays for other people. They’re scoring, and as long as we rebound, teams aren’t going to beat us.”
In sweeping the season series against its first-year conference opponent and ending a two-game home losing streak, Georgetown shot 49 percent, owned a 42-32 advantage in points in the paint, 12-3 on points off turnovers and 18-7 in bench points. Reserves Aaron Bowen and Jabril Trawick each scored eight points, with Trawick collecting six rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes.
Trawick’s most important basket came with 2 minutes 26 seconds to play and the Hoyas holding a 60-56 advantage. The junior secured a pass from Starks and sank a layup that blunted Butler’s 9-2 run, and Starks followed with a pair of foul shots before sinking the clinching jumper.
“Today’s game was just a fun game,” Starks said. “Obviously down the stretch we have to be smarter. I think we all understand that, but today’s game was just a fun game. Right now I’m just having fun playing the game.”
Other highlights for Starks included a pull-up jumper from the wing after shaking off a defender and later driving to the basket to find Lubick for a field goal that put the Hoyas ahead, 53-44. That basket was part of a 9-2 run that provided a 10-point separation for Georgetown, which had taken the lead for good late in the first half on a pair of Lubick foul shots.
Forward Andrew Chrabascz led Butler with a game-high 24 points, making 9 of 13 shots and 5 of 6 from the foul line. The freshman scored 18 of 20 and 15 in a row for the Bulldogs, who have lost four of five and remain in last place in the Big East.
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