Hoyas fall without Chris Wright as Orange win 4th straight

WASHINGTON -- Chris Wright stood near midcourt, his heavily bandaged broken left hand stuffed in the pocket of a blue-and-gray Georgetown warmup jacket. He stood still and chewed gum while watching his teammates go through a pregame layup drill.

That was as close to the action as Wright would get Saturday, stuck on the sideline with an injury the Hoyas hope will heal quickly enough to allow the senior point guard to play in the NCAA tournament.

With Wright's 93-game starting streak snapped, No. 11 Georgetown's offense slowed to a halt for stretches Saturday, and Syracuse (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) beat its Big East rival 58-51 behind 17 points and seven assists from Scoop Jardine.

"We came out on the losing end," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said, "but whether Chris is out there -- when Chris gets back, until then -- we're going to figure this out."

The Orange (24-6, 11-6) got 12 points and seven rebounds from Rick Jackson and won their fourth consecutive game. Syracuse pulled away after trailing 45-43 with 10 minutes left.

Freshman Nate Lubick gave Georgetown that lead -- its first since 25 seconds into the game -- by scoring his only two baskets on consecutive possessions. But the Hoyas went 1 for 12 from the field the rest of the way.

"I think we got good shots," said Jason Clark, whose 11 points made him one of only two Hoyas in double figures. "We just didn't make them."

Austin Freeman scored 16 points for the Hoyas (21-8, 10-7), who entered the day No. 6 in the country in field-goal percentage at 48.9 but shot only 36 percent (18 for 50) against the Orange.

Georgetown finished with 16 turnovers and only 10 assists, playing in front of a boisterous crowd of 20,276 -- the largest for a Georgetown game at the Verizon Center, and one that included former President Bill Clinton, former Hoyas and NBA star Alonzo Mourning, and Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.

Wright was stuck in a seat, too.

"He's a great player. Obviously, it hurts them, not having him," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "He makes a huge difference."

Wright hurt his non-shooting hand during a collision in the second half of Georgetown's 58-46 home loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday night, then had surgery the next morning.

He is averaging a team-leading 5.4 assists and ranks second to Freeman in scoring with a 13.1 average. Wright had been playing particularly well recently, averaging 21.7 points and shooting 50 percent over the three games leading up to Cincinnati.

Against Syracuse, his play and leadership clearly were missed. Hollis Thompson started in Wright's place and was 0 for 5 from the field.

"At points, we were holding the ball a little bit too long, looking for something," Freeman said, "instead of just passing it around."

About 15 minutes before tipoff, Wright's name boomed over the loudspeakers, just as it always does in the moments leading up to the Hoyas' home games. Except this time, Wright was being introduced for a "senior day" ceremony -- not the starting lineup.

It was Georgetown's last home game of the season, and so tipoff was preceded by the traditional celebration of departing players. Wright, Freeman, Julian Vaughn and Ryan Dougherty were honored.

"It was tough. Clearly, I don't want to miss games," Wright said.

The Hoyas began with Freeman standing at the top of the 3-point arc, directing the offense from there. But eventually they tried moving him into the key, and also used young guards Markel Starks and Vee Sanford at the point.

When the freshman Starks made his first shot, a 3-pointer that pulled Georgetown to 17-16 midway through the half, he backpedaled with a wide smile and found the sophomore Sanford to slap palms.

That was their highlight, however.

James Southerland scored seven points in a 9-2 run by the Orange that put them ahead 33-23 at halftime.

Syracuse went up by as many as 12 points -- 37-25 on Jackson's dunk 2½ minutes into the second half -- before Georgetown began whittling away.

Still, Jardine's jumper with a little more than 5½ minutes left put the Orange ahead 49-46, and he followed with a 3-pointer to make it 52-46.

That was pretty much that.

"I'm not trying to look for something good, but we responded. It's not like we packed it in. It's not like we took a 'woe is me' attitude. We fought. We scrapped. We got back in it," John Thompson III said. "Are we in a position we thought we would be five days ago? No. ... But that group in there -- I've got confidence that we're going to figure it out."