NEW YORK (AP) - John Thompson III entered Madison Square Garden on Saturday morning not knowing how his team would respond to a two-game losing streak in which the 19th-ranked Hoyas scored 48 points in each game and were throttled at home in the second.
He found out in a hurry.
Georgetown took a 23-point lead in the first half and cruised to a 67-51 victory over St. John's, showing flurries of offense and a superior defense.
``You lose a couple of games and sometimes you feel like you're never going to win another game,' Thompson said. ``Our guys responded today up and down the line. We had energy, enthusiasm, communication with each other. We played well, It was fun.'
Otto Porter had 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and Martel Starks had 17 points for the Hoyas (11-3, 1-2 Big East), who certainly didn't look like a 48-point team. There was plenty of offense from them in this game as they continued their great defense in taking a 36-19 halftime lead after being up by 33-10.
Georgetown reached 48 points with 13:36 to play, taking a 21-point lead. The Hoyas' biggest lead of the game was 26 points.
They were coming off a 73-48 loss to Pittsburgh, their worst home loss in 40 years.
``The last game we were terrible in every facet of basketball, not just scoring,' Thompson said. ``But we worked on our offense and stressed a few things and saw a few things we had to adjust and we did OK today.'
The Hoyas, who came in allowing 55.7 points per game and shooting 38.7 percent from the field, improved those numbers with the suffocating defense they have played all season. They outrebounded St. John's 48-33.
``We just played defense. No tricks. No gimmicks,' Stark said. ``You have your teammates' back. The things we've emphasized from day one. We're a good defensive team but we have to keep getting better.'
Jamal Branch had 16 points and JaKarr Sampson added 12 for the Red Storm (9-7, 1-3), who have lost three straight and four of five. The lone win was at then-No. 14 Cincinnati.
For the second straight game, St. John's hurt itself at the free-throw line. The Red Storm went 15 of 27 at the line this week in a two-point loss to Rutgers. On Saturday, they were 6 of 16.
``We're very embarrassed but we have to get back to work,' Sir'Dominic Pointer of St. John's said. ``Notre Dame is right around the corner, and we can't dwell on it. This is a bad loss for us, but we have to snap back quick.'
St. John's missed 13 of its 16 3-point attempts, with the three makes coming in the final 2:09. The Red Storm came in shooting 32.4 percent from beyond the arc, 11th in the Big East.
``It was a dominating performance by Georgetown,' St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. ``We got taken to the woodshed in all aspects of play. They beat us to the punch from start to finish. It's not that complicated. It's simple.'
Georgetown played without sophomore forward Greg Whittington, who missed the game for a violation of team rules. No details were provided.
The 6-foot-8 Whittington had started all 13 games and is second on the team in scoring (12.1) and rebounding (7.0).
``Certain people had to step up to carry the load,' Porter said. ``It's a team effort.'
When Thompson was asked whether Whittington would be back for the next game he said, ``I can't tell you right now.'
Georgetown avoided its first 0-3 start in the conference since 1998-99.
It was the Hoyas' fourth straight win in the series and the 10th in the last 13 games. The teams play again Feb. 2 in Washington.
It was the fewest points St. John's scored in a half this season and it was the biggest halftime deficit the Red Storm faced this season.
Chris Obekpa's six blocks gave him 82 for the season, breaking the tie with Walter Berry for the St. John's season record of 76.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved