Georgetown and Missouri play an early season classic

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If you don’t get ESPNU, now might be the time to call your cable company.

Because you missed out on a classic tonight.

Georgetown downed Missouri 111-102 in overtime as the ACC/Big Ten Challenge dominated the Worldwide Leader’s main channels. It was a game rife with clutch buckets, end to end action, and two of this season’s best teams throwing haymakers for 45 minutes.

The game had some terrific moments on both sides of the ball — Marcus Denmon’s three with 8:25 left that gave Missouri their first lead at 77-75 after coming back from 18 down; Chris Wright’s three with 0.3 seconds left to force overtime; Jason Clark shaking off a 1-6 start from deep to hit three straight threes in overtime to seal the win. But you can catch the highlights on Sportscenter.

You come here for the insight. So what did we learn about each team tonight?

Missouri:

  • Mizzou is as deep and balanced as we thought. With star Kim English struggling, it was the rest of the Tigers that stepped up. Marcus Denmon poured in 27 points, including 16 in the first half that kept the Tigers close. Ricardo Ratliffe went for 22 points and should provide Mizzou with a legitimate interior presence this season. Mike Dixon had a terrific game, scoring 17 points and seemingly having a hand in every play down the stretch.
  • That said, Missouri made a number of costly mistakes. Dixon fouled Wright with the score 91-87 and under a minute left when he bumped the Hoyas point guard 40 feet from the basket. In the final 30 seconds, the Tigers missed three of four free throws that allowed Georgetown to remain within striking distance. English took a number of questionable shots late in the game, but it was his save of a missed Hollis Thompson three on the final possession under the Georgetown basket that allowed Wright an opportunity to tie the game in regulation.
  • Missouri can be good defensively even when their press isn’t effective. The Tigers switched into a matchup zone in the second half that helped to slow down Georgetown’s attack.

Georgetown:

  • As well as the Hoyas back court played (and they really played well, combining for 78 points on 26-49 shooting, including 12-26 from three and 14-14 from the line. Wright also added 10 assists. And I cannot possibly count the number of important baskets that those three hit), it was the effort of Nate Lubick and Henry Sims that allowed Georgetown to remain ahead for as long as they did. Those two were only credited with four offensive rebounds, but they kept so many balls alive throughout the second half that gave the Hoyas second and third opportunities to score. For what its worth, starting center Julian Vaughn only played nine minutes due to foul trouble. Maybe this Hoya front line is better than we thought.
  • The bigs weren’t the only unsung heroes. Seldom used sophomore Vee Sanford hit a huge three to answer Denmon’s, giving the Hoyas the lead back at 78-77, albeit briefly. Markel Brown made a couple of big plays in the second half as well.
  • We’ve been burned be relying on the Hoyas after dominating performances. Ask anyone that had Georgetown beating Ohio in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. This team feels different. They have two talented seniors leading the way this year, neither of whom looked the least bit rattled when Missouri finally did erase that 18 point lead. Keep in mind, Georgetown was able to fight back and win this game despite playing in what was a de facto home game for Missouri.

Both of these teams are going to be around for a long time come March.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.