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Georgetown’s China trip gets physical, even for the Big East


You can tell Georgetown coach John Thompson III is used to being in Washington DC. He can play it cool, even when it comes to international incidents.

Thompson’s team was part of a wild brawl between Chinese professional team Bayi Rockets on Thursday night in Beijing that ended an exhibition that was supposed to be a goodwill game. How’s that for a wild overseas trip?

Georgetown, playing in its second exhibition during a 10-day trip to China, never engaged the Rockets in a carefree, relaxed style usually associated with exhibtions. This game reportedly featured more than 50 free-throw attempts and plenty of pushing and shoving. Call it a throwback to the old-school Big East games that were a mix of ballin’ and brawn. With one notable exception.

This happened.

And just think, Vice President Joe Biden had watched Georgetown’s Wednesday exhibition. This would’ve been quite the show.

Washington Post reporter Gene Wang filed this dispatch from the game. He apparently was one of the few media members to attend the event. (He talks more about the fight here.)

Georgetown Coach John Thompson III pulled his players off the court with 9 minutes 32 seconds left in the game and the scored tied at 64 after a chaotic scene in which members of both teams began throwing punches and tackling one another.

Georgetown senior center Henry Sims had a chair tossed at him by an unidentified person, and freshman forward Moses Ayegba, who was wearing a brace on his sore right ankle, walked onto the court with a chair in his right hand. According to Georgetown officials, Ayegba had been struck, prompting him to grab a chair in self-defense.

Small wonder the Hoyas got off the floor.

“It wasn’t that JT III (John Thompson III) pulled them off the floor,” Georgetown spokesman Mex Cary told Jeff Goodman. “At that point, the game was done.”

The Hoyas were briefed before their trip – labeled as a sports diplomacy trip to strengthen ties between the U.S. and China – and are hardly the only college team playing overseas right now. Duke’s also in China right now, but hasn’t had any issues.

Georgetown is supposed to leave Friday morning for Shanghai, where it’ll continue its exhibition tour. (It returns to the states Wednesday.) But the Hoyas are supposed to play the Rockets again Sunday night.

I wouldn’t count on that game happening.

Meanwhile, Thompson’s statement about the event was what one might expect from the taciturn coach: even and calm.

“Tonight two great teams played a very competitive game that unfortunately ended after heated exchanges with both teams,” Thompson said. “We sincerely regret that this situation occurred.”

Longtime Hoyas fans are probably wondering how his dad, John Thompson, would’ve handled this back in the ‘80s or ‘90s. Yeah. Me too.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.