Georgetown welcomed its second-largest crowd of the season and the nation’s top-ranked team to Capital One Arena on Saturday, offering the potential for a lively afternoon. Then the Hoyas arrived — to use the term quite loosely — and turned in another home dud during an 89-64 loss to Connecticut.
Georgetown (8-15, 1-11 Big East) has dropped eight straight games and clinched its eighth losing conference record in the past nine seasons to match its total from the Big East’s first 36 years. And for the first time in school history, the Hoyas have lost three home games in a row by at least 24 points.
“I thought we didn’t show up,” Georgetown Coach Ed Cooley said. “I can’t believe we were so listless, lifeless, not physical, not connected, not verbal, we didn’t communicate. There’s a lot of reflection that has to go on.”
For its part, No. 1 Connecticut (22-2, 12-1) did show up. Alex Karaban scored 25 points, one shy of the career high he matched in the teams’ first meeting last month, and Stephon Castle added 17. Center Donovan Clingan doubled his career-best assist total, recording six while dissecting the Hoyas with his passing from the elbow. Tristen Newton had nine stress-free assists and Cam Spencer matched his career high with seven for the Huskies, who have won 12 in a row and never trailed Saturday.
The Hoyas have established an undesirable pattern over the past month: competitive efforts on the road and abysmal showings in Washington. A one-point loss at Xavier was followed by a 90-66 throttling by Butler. A feisty eight-point defeat at Providence preceded a 91-57 clobbering from Marquette, the Hoyas’ most lopsided Big East home loss ever.
Georgetown hung around in Wednesday’s 76-70 loss at Seton Hall, only to revert to turnstile defense against the defending national champions, who probably would have done just fine without that kind of help.
Connecticut uncorked a 9-0 run to take a 19-6 advantage, prompting a Cooley timeout. A second 9-0 Huskies spurt to make it 28-12 led to another Georgetown timeout. And when the next two possessions featured Georgetown’s Wayne Bristol Jr. air balling a three-pointer and an undefended Castle collecting a Newton feed for a dunk, Cooley took another timeout, his third in less than five minutes.
The Huskies led 52-28 at halftime, and the margin was between 20 and 27 for the entire second half as the crowd of 13,040 thinned out.
“We were just real mature and professional to start the game,” Connecticut Coach Dan Hurley said. “Offensively, defensively, we just made it really hard on them.”
Dontrez Styles scored 23 points for Georgetown, his most since he had a career-high 26 against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 18. Sophomore point guard Jayden Epps, who began the day as the Big East’s No. 4 scorer at 18.3 points per game, was limited to a season-low four on 2-for-8 shooting.
“I always say this: The point guard, the head coach and the best player can never have a bad day, and all three of us today were God-awful,” Cooley said. “I should have just stayed in bed and had you coach the damn team.”
As is its custom after most losses, Georgetown did not make players available to speak with the media. Instead, Cooley was left to offer his assessment of another home bludgeoning that looked quite a bit like the previous two. And while he didn’t emphasize the wide disparity in the ability of the teams, it was hard to ignore just how crisply the Huskies went about their business.
Connecticut assisted on 26 of its 33 field goals. It doubled up the Hoyas 48-24 in the paint. It was ruthless in running baseline out-of-bounds plays, invariably finding holes in Georgetown’s befuddled defense. And it offered a considerable contrast to a team slogging through another lost season.
“Nobody’s got time for soft,” Cooley said. “Nobody’s got time for bad body language. Nobody’s got time for listless. I said in the huddles today: I can take missed shots. I can take turnovers. I can’t take ‘Woe is me.’ ”
Whatever help Georgetown needs to bolster a defense Cooley described as “atrocious” Saturday apparently will not arrive any earlier than the offseason. It’s also clear that his patience for the Hoyas’ work on that end — they ranked 293rd out of 362 teams nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency entering Saturday — is nearly exhausted.
“You have the number one team in the country in your building on national television,” Cooley said. “We all have to kind of look at ourselves here. I’m not saying we have to be the most talented team, but I’ll be damned if you can’t be the most hungry team, if you can’t have effort, energy and enthusiasm. That starts with me, and I’m accountable to this. And the only people who can fix it are the ones in the room.”