While Georgetown honored three seniors suiting up for the last time at the Verizon Center Saturday afternoon, it felt appropriate that No. 2 Villanova would be the last opponent on the Hoyas' schedule.
Villanova seniors Josh Hart (Sidwell Friends) and Kris Jenkins (Gonzaga) both played their high school basketball inside the District, yet somehow both escaped the nation's capital and found their way a few hours up I-95 for the next steps in their basketball journey.
Since their arrival at Villanova, there has been a complete reversal of fortunes in the heated rivalry with the Hoyas and Saturday was no different. The D.C. duo combined for 40 points, as Hart led the Wildcats with 21 and Jenkins had 19 in the 81-55 Villanova victory (see Instant Replay). It was Villanova's fifth straight win over the Hoyas, matching a program record going back to 1950.
When asked about if it was nice to come back home for their final college regular season game, Jenkins responded with a large grin, immediately turning to Hart who was to his right with head coach Jay Wright in the middle before answering, "Just our next game, man."
Hart was able to add more description to the homecoming.
"It's always great being able to come back home," he said. "Obviously I know Kris and myself had a lot of people come to the game. All that is something that we can think about after the game. But before that we've got to be dialed into Georgetown and during the game, we can’t think about trying to go get a bucket because we got people here coming to see us."
Since arriving at Villanova, Hart and Jenkins have a record of 8-1 against the Hoyas with a possible tenth game awaiting next week if Georgetown beats St. John's in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Before their arrival, Georgetown had won eight of its last 10 meetings with Villanova.
Georgetown head coach John Thompson III, who has been under heavy scrutiny this week for his team's second consecutive losing season, knows just how important Hart has been to Villanova.
"His mindset," Thompson III said when asked about what sets Hart apart. "He finds a way to impose his will on most contests that they have. Sometimes it's for long stretches, sometimes it's for the entire game. Every game he’s in you know he’s in."
When Georgetown looked to make it a game in the second half, it was Hart who blew things open with consecutive three-pointers in pushing a nine-point lead up to 60-45 with 7:09 remaining. Villanova never saw its lead shrink below 14 the rest of the way.
"What stands out is Josh hits those two three-pointers and we didn't bounce back," Thompson III said. "I don’t know if there's anyone in the country that plays as hard as him. For four years now, he's given his teammates confidence and energy. And you can see the improvements in his game offensively to let you know he's working on the practice court too when it's not a contest."
Jenkins failed to hit at least one three-pointer for the first time in 10 games and just the third time this season. But he still found a way to be a thorn in the Hoyas' side by hitting 11 of his 13 free throws.
"I just feel like we're getting better, and as long as we continue to get better and play Villanova basketball, we'll accept the results of any game," Jenkins said.
The thought of Villanova continuing to get better is a scary proposition for the rest of the college basketball world for an accomplished group that has won everything possible, yet still remains hungry heading into their final stretch.
So as Hart and Jenkins look to add another championship to an already impressive resume at Madison Square Garden next week, there was probably no better place for that push to begin than back home at the Verizon Center.