PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Call off the search. Georgetown's backcourt is back.
Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark, the 22nd-ranked Hoyas' three guards and leading scorers, bounced back from a slump that led to three straight losses, scoring 53 points in a 74-65 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
``It's really good to have these guys back,' Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. ``If we could have won and they still be in their shooting slump, I would take that. But we need these guys to play well for us. That's not to say we don't have other options, but we went through a stretch where they were all out of sync.'
Freeman, the preseason Big East player of the year, had 25 points, four less than he had in the previous three games combined. After going 10 of 31 from the field in his slump, he was 6 of 12 from the field, 9 for 9 at the free-throw line and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds against Rutgers.
``I'm just happy to be making shots,' said Freeman, who had 18 points in the second half, including a stretch where he scored 11 straight points for Georgetown. ``I just wanted to stay aggressive and stay within our offense.'
Wright, who shot 9 of 28 and missed 13 of 16 3-point attempts in the last three games, had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting that included going 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
``It was nice,' Wright said of the backcourt shooting that helped the Hoyas (13-5, 2-4) shake off their worst conference start in 12 years. ``It was nice to make some shots and then things started going. ... No one ever lost confidence. We just weren't putting the ball in the basket. We feel good about ourselves.'
Clark, who didn't struggle as much as the others because of a 7-for-10 effort against West Virginia, had 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting although he was 1 of 6 on 3s.
The Hoyas, who entered leading the Big East in field goal percentage at 50.9, finished 23 of 48 (47.9 percent). Georgetown was 11 of 22 on 3s, including 8 of 12 in the second half.
``They executed. They stepped up and knocked down shots,' first-year Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. ``They attacked more than they had in the last three contests.'
Gilvydas Biruta had 14 points for the Scarlet Knights (10-7, 1-4), who lost for the fifth time in six games. Rutgers, which beat then-No. 7 Georgetown 71-68 here last season, has lost nine of 10 to the Hoyas.
Rutgers stayed even with Georgetown for most of the first half and trailed 31-25 at halftime.
The Hoyas opened the second half with an 8-1 run that included 3s by Clark and Wright. Seven of their first nine field goals in the second half came from beyond the arc.
The Scarlet Knights responded an 8-0 run to close to 44-36 with 12:24 to play. That was part of a 14-3 run that got Rutgers to 47-43 with 10 minutes to play.
Then Freeman took over.
His personal run included two 3-pointers and three free throws when he drew a foul from Mike Poole as he was taking a shot from behind the arc with the shot clock running out.
``I saw the shot clock and knew I had to make a play,' Freeman said. ``He bit on the head fake and I got fouled.'
Freeman added another 3 with 5:30 left that made it 61-50 and the Scarlet Knights didn't get closer than eight the rest of the way.
Freeman said he heard suggestions and criticisms from a number of people during the slump. He smiled and said none of the advice really mattered.
``People always have something to say,' he said. ``You just keep playing. That's about it.'
Jonathan Mitchell, who had a career-high 24 points in the upset of Georgetown last season, had 13 points and James Beatty added 12.
Rutgers shot 43.1 percent (25 of 58) for the game, just below what the Scarlet Knights were shooting for the season (44.5), which was 11th in the conference.
``I think we're improving but the Ls keep mounting. We'll keep grinding and improving,' Rice said. ``Nobody's quitting. They're all in. We have 13 games left. I have to keep explaining that to them.'
The Associated Press News Service
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