No. 2 Villanova dominates reeling Georgetown

By Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange  |  March 5, 2017 at 6:26 AM
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March 5 (UPI) -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Some might suggest telling a lie in the nation's capital is the norm. Josh Hart's fib following the final regular season game in his hometown won't lead to scandal.

Besides, the Villanova senior's wry smile before answering a question about the game's meaning shortly after a resounding win over Georgetown told the truth.

Hart scored 21 points and sank back-to-back 3-pointers during a 15-2 second half run as No. 2 Villanova concluded its dominating regular season with an 81-55 win over reeling Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.

Kris Jenkins had 19 points and Jalen Brunson 17 as the Wildcats (28-3, in the 15-3 Big East) shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half, hitting 12 of their final 16 shots.

The defending national Wildcats previously clinched their fourth consecutive Big East regular season title.

Seniors Hart, who scored 25 points in Villanova's 75-64 home win over Georgetown on Feb. 7, and Jenkins are both from the D.C. area.

The notion that Hart, who attended High School not far from the Georgetown campus, wanted to join the Hoyas program is no urban legend.

With Hart and Jenkins seated on opposite sides of coach Jay Wright at the postgame dais, the pair were asked if they were hyped for their last game in their hometown.

Hart sat quiet as an all-telling grin sprouted on his face.

"Were you hyped, Josh?" Jenkins asked his teammate.

Responded Hart: "It was a regular game, man. A regular game."

There's been nothing regular about this two-season stretch and past week for the Hoyas (14-17, 5-13).

Georgetown harbored hopes of an NCAA Tournament at-large berth last month, but has lost five in a row.

Barring a miracle run at next week's conference tournament, the Hoyas will finish with consecutive losing record campaigns for the first time since the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.

The situation has led to potential drama over the future of longtime coach John Thompson III.

Villanova's 10-2 run put the Wildcats up 38-23 lead with 58 seconds left in the first half. Georgetown scored the final five points before halftime and extended the run to 12-1, pulling to within 39-35 as the Wildcats missed their first six shots to start the second half.

The Hoyas would not get closer. Hart's deep shooting flurry fueled the decisive second half run which put the Wildcats up 67-47.

"Our defense disappeared," said Thompson, who is 278-150 during his 13 seasons at Georgetown. "What stands out in my head ... is when Josh hits those two 3's. We didn't bounce back. We didn't bounce back."

Former Georgetown players spoke anonymously with ESPN this week for an article about the need for a change with the head coach. Several other outlets published various forms of commentary about the state of the program.

Thompson, son of legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., led the Hoyas to the 2007 Final Four, but the Hoyas haven't advanced beyond the round of 32 since.

The Hoyas are 69-61 over the past four seasons.

Thompson was asked if the outside discussion caused any distraction this week, but a school spokesman answered for the Coach, calling for "game-related questions only."

During the four seasons with Hart and Jenkins, the Wildcats went 8-1 against the Hoyas including Big East Tournament games.

Saturday's win improved the Wildcats' regular-season record over that span to 63-9. The Wildcats swept the season series from the Hoyas, extending their winning streak to five overall.

"Just our next game," Jenkins said of playing at Georgetown. "We love the opportunity to play. We're hyped, we're ready to go for every game."

Villanova scored 19 points off 20 Georgetown turnovers, while only committing seven miscues. Jenkins made 11 of 13 free throws. Villanova finished 23 of 30.

After threatening to set a season-low shooting percentage, Villanova exploded over the final eight minutes.

"Every offense looks good when you have really good players that are really skilled," Wright said. "It's true. They see all the options, and that's really the key to it. I think Kris and Josh are the best at it."

Rodney Pryor, one of three players honored on Senior Day, had 21 points for the Hoyas in their regular season finale.

"New slate; we have to win four," Pryor said of heading to the Big East Tournament. "That's our mindset."

NOTES:

-- Georgetown enters the Big East tournament as the No. 9 seed and will play No. 8 Saint John's on Wednesday evening at Madison Square Garden. The winner faces Villanova on Thursday afternoon.

-- Villanova reached the Big East tournament in each of the last two seasons, losing the 2016 final to Seton Hall.

-- Hoyas G Rodney Pryor sank three 3-pointers, upping his total to 81. He joins Allen Iverson as the only players in program history with at least 80 in a season.

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