March 04, 2014
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by Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON - Saving one of the best performances in his four-year Georgetown career for his final home game, senior guard Markel Starks had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists as the Hoyas defeated No. 13 Creighton 75-63 in front of 12,105 fans at the Verizon Center Tuesday night.
Sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds while junior forward Jabril Trawick added 15 points and Mikael Hopkins scored ten points to round out the double-figure scorers for Georgetown.
Georgetown improved to 17-12 and 8-9 in the BIG EAST by defeating a ranked opponent for the third time this season.
Creighton was led by All-American forward Doug McDermott's game-high 22 points but the Bluejays dropped consecutive games for the first time this season to fall to 23-6 and 13-4.
Starks, who previously established his career high with eight assists against Kansas State earlier this season, was taken back after the game when thinking about his long road to achieve his childhood dream of playing for Georgetown.
"The more and more I talk about it the more sentimental I'm going to be," Starks admitted. "This is a dream come true and I mean that on many different levels. I've worked my entire life to get here and for that to be my last home game in a Georgetown uniform is emotional."
Starks played a pivotal role early on as Georgetown trailed just once in evening up the season series with Creighton. Toward the end of the first half, senior forward Aaron Bowen picked off an errant Creighton pass and flipped the ball to Starks. From there, Starks dribbled past half court before picking out Trawick at the rim for an alley-oop that brought the home crowd to its feet as the Hoyas took their first double-digit lead of the game at 34-23 with 4:09 remaining.
Starks finished the first half with seven of his career-high 11 assists in helping the Hoyas shoot 61.5 percent from the field in taking a 42-28 lead into the halftime break.
Bowen finished with nine points, four rebounds, and steals as the Hoyas forced seven first half Creighton turnovers.
Georgetown used a fast start after halftime as Hopkins converted back-to-back layups to give the Hoyas their largest lead of the game at 46-30 with 18:26 remaining. In staying out of foul trouble for the first time in seven games, Hopkins made a significant contribution on both ends of the court. The junior forward played a season high 37 minutes and tied a career-high with 5 blocks.
"I thought Mikael was key," Coach John Thompson III explained afterwards. "Having Mikael on defense, as it relates to McDermott, was one of the main factors in us coming out on top today."
McDermott scored 16 of his 22 points after halftime and kept Creighton hanging around as the Bluejays came within five points after a Grant Gibbs three-pointer with 1:32 remaining put the score at 66-61.
With Creighton pressing Starks against stepped up by finding Bowen all alone under the basket for his finally assist of the game. From there Starks, Trawick, and Bowen converted 5-of-6 from the line as Coach Thompson III teams improved to 8-2 on Senior Nights.
"To tell you the truth, I don't like to think about it," Coach Thompson III said about his seniors eventually moving on. "This is a group, Markel is a player, that we're going to miss. This is the last home game but we plan on him playing a few more games in a Georgetown uniform before everything is said and done."
Before tipping it off for the final time this regular season at Verizon Center, Head Coach John Thompson III and the Georgetown basketball program recognized three senior managers - Edwin Bradley III, Chance Harvey and Tommy Petriccione - as well as five senior players - center Moses Ayegba (Kano, Nigeria/Progressive Christian [Md.]), guard Aaron Bowen (Jacksonville, Fla./QEA [N.C.]), guard John Caprio (North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep), forward Nate Lubick (Southborough, Mass./St. Marks) and guard Markel Starks (Accokeek, Md./Georgetown Prep).
Georgetown's senior class finishes with a 53-9 record at home - good for an 85 percent winning percentage - including a perfect 26-0 against non-conference opponents at Verizon Center.
Georgetown closes out the regular season on Saturday, March 8, visiting long-time BIG EAST Conference rival Villanova. Tip-off at Wells Fargo Center is slated for 2 p.m. The game will be shown live on Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery calling all of the action and can be heard locally on Sports Talk 570 AM.
Notes: Starks moved past Austin Freeman ('11) and into 21st place on the school's all-time assist list. The senior guard now has 284 for his career. Starks also tied Mark Tillmon ('90) for seventh place on the school's all-time three-pointers list with 156 made field goals from long distance. Hopkins moved into a tie with Henry Sims ('12) for 19th place on the school's all-time block list with 94.