CBKB: Wright leads No. 22 Georgetown past top-seeded, No. 3 Syracuse
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — Chris Wright scored 27 points and No. 22 Georgetown sailed past No. 3 Syracuse with an impressive second-half surge, beating the top-seeded Orange 91-84 in the Big East tournament quarterfinals Thursday.
Though still a strong candidate for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, Syracuse (28-4) sustained a potentially costly loss when starting center Arinze Onuaku injured his right knee with 5:07 remaining.
Onuaku landed awkwardly after trying to block Greg Monroe’s shot down low. Whistled for a foul on the play, Onuaku grabbed his knee immediately and was tended to by medical staff and coach Jim Boeheim before being helped off the floor. The senior did not return, and Boeheim said Onuaku had strained the right knee.
Austin Freeman added 18 points in his third game since being diagnosed with diabetes. Jason Clark had 17 for the No. 8 seed Hoyas (22-9), who will play Marquette or No. 10 Villanova in the first semifinal Friday night.
Monroe had 15 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high seven assists, skillfully dominating in the paint against Syracuse’s big and rugged front line.
Playing before a lively crowd, Georgetown rebounded from two losses to Syracuse earlier this season and took a 7-6 edge in Big East tournament games between the longtime rivals, the most common matchup in the 31-year history of the event.
Five times they’ve played for the title, with the Hoyas winning the first four of those before Syracuse broke through in 1992.
Syracuse, which won the regular-season conference championship, has dropped consecutive games for the first time all season. Although the Orange are one of the most talented teams in the country, they normally rotate only seven players.
The 6-foot-9 Onuaku is the school’s career leader in field-goal percentage (64.9). He began the day averaging 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season
Conference player of the year Wes Johnson led Syracuse with 24 points in his Big East tournament debut. The junior forward, who sat out a season after transferring from Iowa State, shot 10 for 17 and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Scoop Jardine added 19 points and Kris Joseph 18, both off the bench. Andy Rautins, who had 14 points and 10 assists, keyed the spurt that gave the Orange a nine-point lead with about 13:40 left, then provided little down the stretch.
Little-used freshman guard Vee Sanford put the Hoyas ahead 60-59 on a baseline floater with about 10:35 to go, their first lead in nearly 21 minutes since they were up 14-11. The basket was part of a 13-0 run and 19-2 surge that gave Georgetown a 70-61 advantage with about 7:24 left.
The Orange cut it to 74-72 on Jardine’s two free throws, but Monroe converted a pair of three-point plays as the Hoyas pushed the lead back to 85-76 with 1:39 to go.
Joseph’s 3-pointer pulled the Orange within four, but Jardine missed on a tough drive with about 40 seconds left. Georgetown finally sealed the victory from the free throw line.
Georgetown shot 57.9 percent, overcoming a 37-10 deficit in bench points. The Hoyas, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a 69-49 victory over South Florida on Wednesday, have seven Big East tournament titles — more than any other team.
Syracuse became the third low seed in two years to lose its first Big East tournament game after receiving a double-bye into the quarterfinals. Pittsburgh and Connecticut were beaten last season.