Georgetown is more concerned with accumulating wins than making statements with 10 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. Sophomore Markel Starks and freshman Otto Porter made sure the Hoyas did both.
Starks scored 16 of his career-high 20 points in the second half and Porter came up clutch late as No. 12 Georgetown snapped No. 4 Louisville's 20-game home winning streak with a 71-68 victory Wednesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
"It was a very good, big win against a very good team in a difficult place to play," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "We aren't worrying about validation right now."
Still, it was another strong performance from a team picked 10th in the Big East. Georgetown (11-1, 1-0) built an 11-point lead before having to survive a rally to win for the ninth consecutive time.
This was their grittiest effort yet, coming from behind to build a big lead and then held on when Louisville rallied late in front of a raucous crowd.
Starks finished 7 of 8 from the field to help Georgetown take control and Porter, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds, made several key plays late that helped the Hoyas fend off the Cardinals.
"When you're in the heat of the battle you're just playing in the flow of the game, shots are going to come," Starks said. "Whether you make them or miss them, those are shots you've got to be able to take. I took them and they were able to fall."
Louisville (12-1, 0-1) had been one of six Division I teams that came into play Wednesday without a loss. The Cardinals held a tenuous lead through most of the first half and early into the second before the Hoyas' youth movement took over.
Kyle Kuric finished with 17 points and Peyton Siva had 15 for Louisville.
"This is very disappointing. This is our first loss at home. It's sad," Cardinals guard Chris Smith said.
Trailing 63-52, the Cardinals went on an 11-0 run sparked when Russ Smith hit a 3 in the corner and Siva made two key plays, including hitting a floater off the glass before Gorgui Dieng scored down low to tie the score with 2:01 left.
Porter followed up a miss by Henry Sims with a layup then grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end that led to two free throws by Sims that made it 67-63 with 1:12 left. Porter added two free throws to push the margin to six before Smith hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 69-66 with 21 seconds left.
But Porter hit two more free throws to seal it.
"Nothing's going through my mind, just these are tough shots, I've got to hit these free throws and our coach just kept telling me these are clutch free throws, this is what you've been practicing," Porter said. "It never crossed my mind about the crowd."
Louisville had been off to its best start since 1974-75 and its longest home winning streak since 1984 even though the Cardinals needed to rally to win their last three nonconference games and must play No. 3 Kentucky at Rupp Arena next.
Hollis Thompson, who finished with 10 points, hit a jumper and then made a 3 to put the Hoyas up 51-47 with just under 9 minutes left. As play came toward the Louisville end, referee Karl Hess assessed a technical on the Cardinals' bench and Jason Clark hit both free throws to make it a six-point game.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino was adamant about the call, coming out to halfcourt to state his case and later talking to referee Jim Burr at the next media timeout.
"I was telling Kyle not to go under," Pitino said. "His name is Karl, he thought I was talking to him about defending screens."
After Kuric hit two free throws, Starks made consecutive 3s to give Georgetown a 59-49 lead with 6:06 left. Kuric made his fifth 3, but Sims answered with a jump hook over Dieng and then found Starks cutting down the lane for a layup that made it 63-52 with 4« minutes to play.
The Cardinals, who have rallied from deficits of seven or more nine times dating to last season, made one final push. That's when Porter thwarted them late.
"This is the Big East. Night in, night out games are going to be like that," Starks said. "Rarely do you see blowout games. This was a tough Louisville team."