Georgetown has made a habit of spoiling Syracuse celebrations on the hill.
The spoilsports from D.C. famously closed down Manley Field House, then reopened their party-pooping ways two decades later by sullying Syracuse’s presentation of “Jim Boeheim Court.” And that was only happy hour for the biggest party crashing to come.
At the end of his team’s final act in the Salt City as a fellow Big East rival, John Thompson III pulled down the curtain on the Carrier Dome, just as his father did in Syracuse’s former venue 33 years earlier. Like father, like son, the Thompson two-step punctuated their foreclosures by snapping a pair of nation-best home winning streaks in front of sellout crowds.
In one fell swoop, the junior Thompson’s killjoy-minded bunch ruined Carmelo Anthony’s special day, upended Syracuse’s 38-game reign at home and silenced the largest on-campus crowd in college basketball history – a satisfying sendoff for a school set to become a hermit in the realm of college athletics for the foreseeable future.
Otto Porter was the prominent demolition man. The one-man wrecking crew scored 33 of his team’s 57 points, falling just 13 shy of Syracuse’s team total for the game. SU’s 46 points were the fewest posted by the Orange at the Carrier Dome in the history of the Big East Conference. Throw that ornament on your Christmas tree too, G-Town.
Porter draped the Hoyas on his back and dragged the Orange at his feet, dissecting the 2-3 zone from all angles: underneath, in the middle and, for good measure, over the top. While his teammates started just 1-of-20 from the field – finished not much better at 7-of-35 – the sophomore sensation kept the team abreast, then delivered a sequence of daggers down the stretch to put a bow on the afternoon.
Otto’s Army may as well be paying tribute to Porter, not the fuzzy mascot.
Thanks to the play of No. 22, Georgetown sits all alone atop the conference it helped found and preserve for more than three decades. Syracuse will have an opportunity at redemption in two weeks, a chance to knock the Hoyas off their perch and shut down the Big East for good when the two archrivals exchange blows a second time at the Verizon Center.
The stage is set for the biggest showdown between the two programs in their checkered histories, provided both take care of business in the meantime. To the winner: possible ownership of the last truly relevant Big East regular season crown and the final signature on the league’s flagship rivalry. To the loser: eternal shame. The stakes are that high.
Until then, this is Georgetown’s moment to relish. Before the battle for the biggest party in Big East history can take place, the cleanup of another celebration destroyed by Hoyas must get done.
Let the Thompson family tackle that assignment. After all, their teams have been creating the mess for the better part of the last 33 years.