Upset Saturday has once again struck the Louisville Cardinals. Before a raucous crowd at the Verizon Center, the Georgetown Hoyas defeated their Big East rivals, 53-51, to send Louisville to its third straight loss.
Otto Porter Jr. led Georgetown with 17 points (on 5-of-13 shooting) and 12 rebounds. Teammate Markel Starks added 17 as well.
Russ Smith, Luke Hancock and Gorgui Dieng each finished with 12 points for Louisville.
The Cardinals (16-4, 4-3 in Big East) had several chances to win down the stretch, but they were unable to convert. Both Smith and Siva had solid looks for what likely would have been game-winning shots in the final minute, but could not make it happen.
Porter rebounded Siva's miss with about two seconds to go and hit one of two free throws to finalize the score.
The game's final minute was a culmination of what most at the Verizon Center saw throughout Saturday's contest. It was an ugly, hard-fought defensive battle, as neither side could hit 40 percent of its shots.
As to be expected, the contest's beginning looked much like its final score. Georgetown and Louisville were seemingly satisfied to take turns scoring intermittent buckets, playing the game's first six minutes to a 10-10 tie.
Using their patented slow-down offense and suffocating defense, the Hoyas were eventually able to create some separation. They went on a three-minute tear, taking advantage of Cardinals turnovers and missed buckets to take a 21-12 lead with 11:09 remaining in the first half.
Louisville continued to battle back, getting within two points several times, but went into halftime trailing 33-29, as Georgetown looked well on its way to handing the Cardinals their third straight loss.
Porter led the Hoyas with 10 points and four rebounds in the first half.
However, as it's been prone to do, Rick Pitino's squad came out firing in the second half after some solid coaching adjustments. The Cardinals went on an 8-2 run to start the half behind two three-pointers from Luke Hancock, recapturing the lead for the first time since early in the contest.
That run was a momentary blip, though, as the well once again ran dry for Louisville. The Cardinals failed to make a field goal for nearly eight minutes, from Hancock's three-pointer at 16:39 to a Smith basket with 8:48 remaining. That allowed Georgetown to recapture the lead and stretch it to as many as six points.
A little more than two minutes later, fans were also treated to something pretty fun (and controversial): free basketball. As Deadspin notes, the game clock froze with 6:07 remaining for a full 24 extra seconds without any changes being made.
Back on the basketball side of things, Saturday simply was not meant to be a walk in the park for either side. Georgetown went on its own offensive misadventures down the stretch, and the game stayed within one score for the final five minutes.
With John Thompson III's squad now winners of two straight games over ranked teams (the Hoyas beat No. 24 Notre Dame earlier in the week), it looks like the Hoyas are finally putting it all together.
On the other side, Pitino can't be happy. Once the No. 1 team in the country, the Cardinals now could slide pretty far down the Top 25 rankings.
Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post noticed how much the Cardinals were struggling to deal with Otto Porter's brilliant day:
#Louisville doesn't yet have an answer in trench war for the shooting and passing skills of Otto Porter.— Howard Fineman (@howardfineman) January 26, 2013
Bleacher Report's Collin McCollough wasn't exactly impressed with Rick Pitino's late-game play-calling. He throws in a Little Giants reference just for good measure:
Rick Pitino makes Tom Crean look like the kid who drew up The Annexation of Puerto Rico in Little Giants...— Collin McCollough (@cmccollo) January 26, 2013
Meanwhile, ESPN's Jay Bilas was extremely impressed with how the Hoyas stayed strong on Saturday after losing Greg Whittington:
Louisville is scuffling. Georgetown is terrific defensively. Strong response by the Hoyas after losing Greg Whittington.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 26, 2013
To add insult to injury, Saturday's loss gave Louisville its first three-game losing streak since 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Information:
With its loss at Georgetown, Louisville has lost 3 straight games for the 1st time since January 2010.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2013
With a game against the 16-4 Pittsburgh Panthers coming up on Monday, the Cardinals may have a tough time avoiding a fourth straight defeat if their shooting woes keep up.