Move over, Harvard. You’ve now got company atop the list of biggest upsets in this 2013 NCAA Tournament.
No. 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast, a school that was founded during the presidency of George H.W. Bush in 1991, pushed the tempo, emphasized its strengths, and outmuscled No. 2-seeded Georgetown in an upset win, 78-68, in the Round of 64 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
Florida Gulf Coast came into the tournament as a No. 15 seed after winning the Atlantic Sun tournament championship over Mercer and won most notably over now-No. 2 seed Miami early in the non-conference season.
On Friday, Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Sherwood Brown was one of three Florida Gulf Coast players who reached double figures in scoring. He had 24 points, along with 23 from Bernard Thompson and 12 from Brett Comer.
And it was all a matter of pace.
In the first half, Georgetown allowed Florida Gulf Coast to play to its strength. The Hoyas shot just 33 percent from the floor and turned the ball over seven times, leading to run-outs and transition baskets for FGCU. The Eagles were also aggressive in getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Four players had at least two fouls.
Otto Porter, a player in the conversation for the National Player of the Year, had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting. His inability to get in a groove was at the center of Georgetown’s problem of stagnant offense.
The Eagles came out in the second half with the same kind of intensity, taking every Georgetown miss and every Georgetown turnover and igniting a fastbreak. That includes an emphatic alley-oop and big putback slam that left the Hoyas looking confused and bewildered, eventually increasing the lead to 52-33 after a backdoor cut and slam by Chase Fieler.
When the Eagles weren’t getting out in transition, Georgetown was having trouble stopping Florida Gulf Coast in the half court. Point guard Brett Comer worked well against the Hoyas when they were in a zone, posting 10 assists to go along with his 12 points.
It all comes back to a main point that was widely discussed coming into this tournament. With so much parity, nearly every game so far has been a matter of matchups. Georgetown, a team centered around defense and working at a slow pace, met Florida Gulf Coast, one most comfortable working in transition. Because the Hoyas were unable to set the pace early, Florida Gulf Coast settled into a quicker groove and dictated how the game would be played.
The Hoyas are not built to make big swings in points, so a deficit that grew to 14 points with 4:27 left became too much. Georgetown made a push to cut the lead to eight points with 2:25 to play and five points with 1:04 remaining.