WASHINGTON, D.C. — Otto Porter was a one-man wrecking crew last month when Georgetown went into Syracuse and knocked off the Orange, 57-46.
He scored 33 points on 12-19 shooting, hitting 5-10 from three while collecting eight boards and five steals. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he single-handedly sent the 35,000-plus Orange-clad fans that showed up to the Carrier Dome home disappointed.
It was a game that thrust Porter into the National Player of the Year conversation, a place that he has remained ever since, which is why the casual observer might be surprised to see that Georgetown’s dominating, 61-39 win over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon came in a game where Porter finished with just 10 points on 3-7 shooting from the floor.
It may also surprise that casual observer to know that, while his numbers won’t look quite as impressive in the box score, Porter absolutely dominated this game on the offensive end. In addition to those 10 points, Porter finished with eight boards and seven assists without committing a turnover. He put on a clinic of how to beat a zone: flash from the baseline to the high-post, turn and face the basket, knock down a 15 foot jumper if left open or kick it out to the open shooter if the defense collapses.
Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a combined 34 points and shot 8-14 from three.
“I’m extremely confident in them. I know what they’re capable of,” Porter said of his team’s sharp-shooting back court. “The whole game, I was just trying to get open looks for them, put pressure on the defense with me in the middle, making everything else open up.”
As good as Porter has been this season, as dominant as he was the last time these two teams tangled, the Hoyas are more than just a one-man show. It starts on the defensive end of the floor, where the Hoyas were able to seamlessly switch between a 2-3 zone and a stifling man-to-man against the Orange, holding them to 32.6% shooting and forcing 14 turnovers.
It continues to the offensive end of the floor, where Starks and Smith-Rivera have been terrific down the stretch of the season knocking down enough threes to keep the floor spread and creating enough off the bounce to keep defenses honest. Nate Lubick has played well down the stretch of the season, and while he struggled on Saturday, Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba stepped up, coming up with four points and nine boards.
Georgetown doesn’t win on Saturday — they don’t win the Big East — without the “other guys” being more than just Porter’s background singers.
“No one has looked at [themselves] as ‘other guys’,” John Thompson III said. “Everyone has a role to play, Everyone’s role is importnat. Obviously Otto’s gotten a lot of attention, and he should, but he understands, all of us understands, everyone in that locker room has a role to play. Every night, everyone has to do their job.”
And there-in lies the reason why Porter is so dangerous and why this Georgetown team will be such a threat in March.
‘Bubba’ is good enough to be the National Player of the Year. He’s talented enough to take over games against NCAA tournament competition on the road; ask UConn, they’ll confirm what Syracuse is telling you.
But Porter is also unselfish enough to understand that he’s simply not capable of scoring 30 points on a nightly basis.
He’s going to need help, and not only does use it, he takes advantage of the nights when his supporting cast plays the leading role.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.