WASHINGTON (AP) — Andy Rautins scored a season-high 26 points, and No. 5 Syracuse blew most of a 23-point lead before escaping with an exhausting 75-71 victory over No. 10 Georgetown on Thursday night.
The Orange (25-2, 12-2 Big East) never trailed in improving to 7-0 on the road and 6-0 against ranked teams. Coming off a home loss to Louisville, Syracuse built an 11-point lead in the opening 4 minutes and led 60-37 with 12:37 left.
That's when the Hoyas (18-7, 8-6) finally found their shooting touch — and the Orange went cold. Syracuse made only two baskets in the final 8 minutes, and shot 33 percent with 10 turnovers in the second half.
The comeback started with a 10-0 run. After Rautins connected from beyond the arc, two more Georgetown baskets made it 63-51 with 7½ minutes left and brought the crowd in the Verizon Center to its feet.
Rautins then made two foul shots, but the Hoyas followed with a 9-0 spree to close to 65-60. Minutes later, Austin Freeman converted a three-point play and added a dunk to make it 67-65 with 3:12 to go.
Georgetown closed to 71-70 with 1:10 remaining and had a chance to take the lead, but a shot by Jason Clark bounced off the rim. Kris Joseph then scored on a drive for the Orange with 8.4 seconds left, and after a free throw by Clark, Rautins sealed the win with two foul shots.
Freeman scored 21 points for Georgetown, and Chris Wright and Greg Monroe had 20 apiece.
Syracuse guard Wes Johnson, who suffered through a 5-of-20 shooting performance against Louisville, had 16 points and eight rebounds. Rick Jackson contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Hoyas, who lost at Rutgers on Sunday, are mired in their first losing streak of the season. But they certainly made it interesting against their longtime rivals, who finish with a regular-season sweep after winning by 17 points at home last month.
Frustrated by a tight Syracuse zone defense, the Hoyas went 9 of 29 (31 percent) from the field in the first half.
The Orange made five of their first six shots to quickly go up 13-2. After a 3-pointer by Wright got the Hoyas to 15-6, Rautins followed with two free throws and a 3-pointer — giving him half of Syracuse's first 20 points.
Things then temporarily unraveled for the Orange. Georgetown went on a 12-2 run, and with 9:35 left, Syracuse starting center Arinze Onuaku picked up his third foul.
Jackson took over in the middle, contributing a layup and two free throws to a 9-2 spurt that made it 31-20. Johnson scored Syracuse's final nine points of the half, including a terrific follow-dunk, to increase the margin to 16.