Georgetown turned desperation into 'fun' against Creighton


Georgetown turned desperation into 'fun' against Creighton

John Thompson III's grin said it all.

Typically expressionless regardless of the result, the Georgetown coach couldn't hold back the happy after the Hoyas rallied for a dramatic 74-73 win over Creighton.

"That was fun," he said gleefully at the start of his press conference not long after guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's two free throws with 6.2 seconds left capped a 15-3 run over the 2:18.

Fun surely isn't what Thompson experienced the majority of the game. Arduous better represents the Hoyas' overall experience, certainly during a foul-plagued second half. Creighton controlled the boards and point guard Maurice Watson controlled the game just as he did in the Blue Jays' 79-66 win in Omaha on Jan. 5.

The Hoyas (13-8, 6-2) battled throughout, but effort didn't make for quality execution in a matchup of two of the four teams tied for second in the Big East. Several debatable whistles by the referees added more burden, as did trailing Creighton (14-7, 5-3) 70-59 with 2:18 remaining. That's when effort turned to desperation and Georgetown turned the game.

“Georgetown made some plays down the stretch," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "It felt like we dominated the game for the most part, for 37 minutes and we didn’t execute very well late."

The Hoyas labored shooting from distance in Saturday's non-conference at Connecticut, a trend that continued with a 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) performance against Creighton. Yet other than Marcus Derrickson's 3-pointer that started the decisive surge, Georgetown attacked the paint late, its points coming from around the basket or the free throw line.

Defensively the Hoyas couldn't slow down Watson, who veered into triple-double territory with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Yet he also committed six turnovers including one near midcourt against pressure from Kaleb Johnson that the Hoyas freshman converted into a layup.

"We were in scramble [mode]," Johnson said.  "We knew this was a big game and we needed a win." 

The frenzied defensive effort forced two Creighton turnovers in the 95 seconds plus a wild miss in the final moments.

"There was a lot of adversity coming from a lot of different angles throughout the game and I liked the way we kept fighting and kept plugging," Thompson said. "Every single person made a play, a winning play, to help us win this game. Every single person made a play and that’s how we have to be."

For four years, the coach has liked the way his senior guard handles pressure. Smith-Rivera scored seven of his 19 points in the final 92 seconds including those ending pressure-packed free throws.

"He makes plays," Thompson said. "I mean he’s one of the best in the country and if you’re coming down to the end, I’m going with him."

With the Hoyas trailing 73-72,  Creighton's Khyri Thomas missed two free throws with 23 seconds left. Georgetown didn't have any more timeouts, which meant Thompson couldn't draw up a final play, so his quarterback directed traffic.

"He trusted me and I wanted to come through," Smith-Rivera said.

Creighton switched to a zone defense, but the 6-foot-2 guard maneuvered around multiple defenders off the dribble and into the lane where he drew contact plus Watson's fifth and final foul. With nothing at stake other than the game, maintaining a share of second place in the Big East and arguably Georgetown's hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, two game-winning free throws followed.

" I didn’t really think about it too much," Smith-Rivera said about the free throws. " I shoot every day."

Practice might make perfect, but dealing with pressure is learned only from experiencing those moments. With over two minutes left, the Hoyas were set to experience dread from their fifth home loss of the season. Then they found desperation mode and a win.

If they learn how to sustain that effort over the full 40 minutes starting with Saturday's meeting with No. 10 Providence, Tuesday won't be the last time Thompson flashes the happy grin this season.

MORE HOYAS: Georgetown's furious comeback dumps Creighton

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.


Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year


After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.


Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."