"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Georgetown Defeats Indiana at Madison Square Garden In A Game That Will Matter Come March

Georgetown and Indiana last Saturday in a game that's sure to have March Madness implications. Both teams were in similar situations with similar resumes. Both teams are talented and have shown flashes of being upper echelon squads in their respective leagues.

But, there were question marks about both, as well. Both have come up short against top competition, with both recording one truly good win apiece, Butler for Indiana and Florida for Georgetown.

So, Saturday was a big game and a measuring stick for them both. A neutral court game against a fellow top 30-ish team.

New York City and the iconic Madison Square Garden was the venue. 

For the Hoosiers, it was their second appearance in the World's Most Famous Arena this month, having lost to Louisville 94-74 on the 9th. As for Georgetown, this was the first of at least three Garden visits, with an away game versus St. John's and the Big East Tournament looming.

These two teams met in New York City two years ago. Indiana won that game in Brooklyn, 82-72 in overtime. Saturday's game had the same type of feel going into it. 

For the go-to guys on each squad, the connection runs much deeper. Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and Georgetown's D'Vaunte Smith-Rivera, both from Indianapolis, have been playing against each other since they were toddlers. They are friends and rivals, so this game was personal for both.

Smith-Rivera and Georgetown would ultimately come out on top, in an up-and-down, back-and-forth thriller, again in overtime, 91-87.

The first half belonged to Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and the Hoosiers, who took a 40-30 lead into the break. Ferrell and Blackmon had 12 points apiece with six 3-pointers between them.

In the second half, it was Smith-Rivera, Josh Smith and the Hoyas turn.

Smith Rivera took control early in the half on his way to scoring 24 of his 29 points in the 2nd half and overtime. He hit back to back 3s to start the half, quickly halting any momentum the Hoosiers may have carried over from the first half.

Indiana's weakness this year is their lack of an interior presence. That's a problem especially when you are playing against Georgetown's Josh Smith.

Smith got two quick fouls in the first half and Coach John Thompson III benched him to start the 2nd half in order to conserve him for the stretch run. The gamble paid off. When Smith reentered the game at the 14:04 mark, the Hoyas trailed by 10.

Georgetown immediately got the ball to Smith in the post on the next two possessions, and after he knocked down two free throws and converted a drop-step layup, the Hoosiers lead was cut to six and the Hoyas were right back in the game.

On the strength of Smith, Smith-Rivera and Aaron Bowen, Georgetown took a 74-69 lead with 1:38 left in regulation. But Yogi Ferrell refused to go out without a fight, hitting two late 3-pointers to tie the game at 77-77 and send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Smith and Smith-Rivera continued to make their presence felt, leading the Hoyas to a seven-point lead after the first two minutes of overtime. Indiana would get no closer than three the rest of the way.

Smith finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Bowen contributed 22 points on 10-13 shooting for the Hoyas.

For Indiana, Ferrell scored 27 points, Blackmon finished with 22, and Troy Williams added 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

After the game, Smith recognized the importance of the win for Georgetown. "A win like this is big for us. Our three losses were close, it came down to the other teams executing better than we did. This was a good game for us."

This game was good for them, indeed. It was a quality non conference win on a neutral court versus a quality opponent. It will not only improve their NCAA Tournament resume, but will also give the Hoyas much-needed confidence heading into the start of Big East play.

Indiana should not hang their heads either. They showed that they too are a dangerous team with a lot of talent that should be a serious factor come March.

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