NEW YORK -- Georgetown didn't care how its losing streak ended, just that it did. Beating No. 7 Michigan State made this elusive win even better.
"You lose a couple in a row and life is hard. It's hell," Georgetown coach John Thompson said Saturday after the Hoyas snapped their five-game skid with a surprising 64-60 victory over the Spartans at Madison Square Garden. "It's a good win and I would feel that way regardless of the opponent the way we've been going."
Markel Starks, who led Georgetown with 16 points and made a couple of key plays in the final minute, summed up the team's feeling.
"It's a relief to get a win," he said. "It feels good, finally."
Jabril Trawick came up with two big plays late for the Hoyas (12-9) in the late-season nonconference game that was part of the New York area's celebration of Sunday's Super Bowl.
"It's disappointing but not upsetting," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "They took it right at us. I feel we didn't play with the toughness we needed. They're a good team, I don't care what their record is. They played harder than us. They deserved to win and we got what we deserved."
Georgetown opened the second half on an 11-2 run to take a 40-32 lead on a 3-pointer by Starks with 14:26 to play.
Michigan State closed within two points, but the Hoyas kept the Spartans at bay.
"You're not going to beat Michigan State or any team in the Big East if you aren't physically tough," Thompson said. "You need to be tough enough to make the hustle plays, run down the loose balls, run down the long rebounds and have communication on defense."
Gary Harris finally started connecting for Michigan State and his 3-pointer brought the Spartans within 56-54 with 1:32 to play.
On the ensuing possession, Trawick tipped in a missed shot to give the Hoyas a four-point lead. He came up big again when his breakaway dunk gave Georgetown a 63-55 lead with 30 seconds to go.
"Jabril and Nate (Lubick) were very, very good today," Thompson said. "Their presence out there was unbelievable down the end and Markel made plays. Big, big plays."
Trawick finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting while Lubick had eight points and six rebounds. The Hoyas finished with a 37-30 advantage on the boards against a team that had been outrebounded only four times all season.
"Everybody contributed in the frontcourt," Lubick said. "Coach told us this is a team notorious for rebounding and we beat them up pretty good on the boards and that was a point of emphasis for us."
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 12 points for the Hoyas, who shot 44.9 percent from the field (22 of 49) but were just 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Harris led the Spartans with 20 points, including going 4 of 10 from 3-point range. Michigan State finished 21 of 53 from the field (39.6 percent) and was 9 of 29 from beyond the arc.
Harris agreed with his coach about the Spartans' performance.
"We've got to get tougher as a team. They dominated us on the boards," he said. "We can't let that happen. That is our strength."
This was just the second meeting ever between the schools with Michigan State winning the other in the second round of the 1986 NCAA tournament.
The loss dropped the Spartans to 2-1 in New York City this season. They won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Barclays Center in Brooklyn in November.
Payne has missed the last six games with a sprained foot while Dawson has missed the last two with a broken bone in his right hand.
Izzo said Payne is "supposed to do a little bit of drill work at practice Monday. Don't use that as an excuse this time. We got out-toughed. We got outplayed."
- Pat Driscoll
- Ed Corbett
- Bo Brooks