Syracuse and Georgetown Revive Old Big East Rivalry
By Matthew Wieselthier
Syracuse (8-1, 0-0) travels to its old Big East rival, Georgetown (8-0, 0-0), for the 93rd overall meeting between the two squads. The Orange lead the series 49-43, but the Hoyas have won the past two meetings since Syracuse left the Big East.
No Need to Keep in the Family
Since 1972, John Thomsen Jr. and John Thomsen III have been leading the Hoyas for all but five and a half seasons. The father-son combo combined for 874 wins in total and won 36 games in 66 meetings with Syracuse. However, after two straight losing seasons for the Hoyas, the Thomsen’s are out of the nation’s capital. Instead it’s a Georgetown legend that is leading the way for the Hoyas. Patrick Ewing is now in charge at Georgetown after being an assistant coach in the NBA for 16 years. So far, Ewing has the offense going strong, as the Big East power is averaging 82.0 points per game, a mark that Georgetown hasn’t reached since the 1995-96 season, when John Thomsen Jr. led the Hoyas to the Elite Eight.
Georgetown may have a new coach, but it is three experienced juniors that lead the way for the Hoyas. Jessie Govan may be the most familiar name to Syracuse fans, as he started last year’s game against the Orange. In the Carrier Dome, Govan put up his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The other two juniors may not be as memorable to ‘Cuse fans, as Marcus Derrickson and Kaleb Johnson combined for four points one year ago. Times have changed for these three as they take a larger role in the Georgetown lineup. Govan seems to have learned a lot from legendary big man Patrick Ewing, as he is now averaging 20.6 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game this year. Derrickson is up to 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Finally, Johnson, who averaged 2.3 points last season, is now averaging 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Final Major Tune-up
Syracuse has performed well so far in the non-conference slate, but Saturday may be the last big test the Orange have before conference play. Syracuse finishes the first half of its schedule with three straight mid-major opponents, so a win over Georgetown may be a key to building momentum into the conference slate. This year’s ACC already appears to be strong from top to bottom after Duke, ranked number one at the time, lost to Boston College at the Conte Forum. A win against a former conference rival may be what Jim Boeheim’s team need to succeed in ACC play.
Syracuse 77, Georgetown 68
Of the eight teams the Hoyas have played this season, only one has a winning record (North Carolina A&T is 5-4). Syracuse is the first real test for Georgetown, and it should show when these two meet on Saturday. The Orange faced a rigorous early season schedule, going against some of the best mid-majors in the country and beating teams such as Maryland and Connecticut. A week of rest also should help Syracuse, who will need players such as Bourama Sidibe, who has been dealing with knee issues, back against a big man such as Jessie Govan. Expect some early nerves from the young Orange in the first true road game of the season. However, veterans such as Tyus Battle and Frank Howard should be able to calm the nerves and lead Syracuse to its ninth win of the campaign.