Big East brawl pits Irish against Hoyas

The Georgetown Hoyas play their final home game of the regular season this evening, as they host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Verizon Center.

The Hoyas have been dominant at home so far this season, losing only once in 15 outings, that lone setback being a 68-64 final versus a pesky Cincinnati squad in early January. More recently, Georgetown easily handled a slumping Villanova group on Saturday afternoon, 67-46, to move to 11-5 in conference, which means the unit is tied with South Florida for fourth place in the league standings.

Knowing all about playing strong at home this season, the Fighting Irish have a record of 15-1 at the Joyce Center in South Bend, but being out on the road is a completely different story for the group. Not only is Notre Dame winless in four neutral-site affairs, but the team is also now just 5-4 in true road games following a surprising 61-58 setback to St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The loss snapped a nine-game win streak, the longest for the program in Big East play, and now the Irish are 12-4 in conference and that has them trailing only Syracuse and Marquette in the standings.

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Hoyas hold a narrow 14-13 edge over Notre Dame, although the Irish have won three straight in the relationship. Notre Dame, which posted a 78-64 win in this building two years ago, is 5-6 at Georgetown all-time.

Not only did the Irish have their nine-game win streak against the rest of the Big East come to an end over the weekend, the team also bowed to St. John's for the third time in a row when meeting at MSG. Jack Cooley did all he could to keep Notre Dame in contention with his 18 points and game-high 11 rebounds, but he had nothing to do with his team shooting a season-low 12.9 percent (4- of-31) behind the three-point line. Scott Martin added another 18 points and six rebounds for the visitors in the losing cause. Cooley, who has logged five double-doubles in the last six games and 11 on the season overall, may not be a dominating force on offense every time out with his 12.4 ppg, but his 9.3 rpg makes him a threat to come up with plenty of second-chance scoring opportunities. Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins are both responsible for 12.7 ppg, having combined for both 88 three-point baskets and 251 assists thus far.

Georgetown scored the first points of the game against Villanova on Saturday and never looked back, holding a lead as large as 24 points before settling for the lopsided 21-point win. Otto Porter and Jason Clark both scored 15 points for the hosts, while fellow starters Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson tacked on 12 and 10 points, respectively. All four of the double-digit scorers for the Hoyas also pulled down six rebounds, and that allowed the team to register a comfortable 41-24 rebounding edge over the Wildcats. Clark (14.5 ppg) and Thompson (13.1 ppg) have been key performers out on the perimeter for the Hoyas with a combined 93 three-pointers on the season. But more than just long-distance threats, the pair also hits the glass for close to 10 rpg and because of that the team is beating opponents on the boards by 5.6 rpg at the moment. Sims (11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is also someone to keep an eye on in the paint because he leads the team with 40 blocked shots at one end of the floor, and at the other end has handed out a team-best 92 assists, so there's not much he can't do.