Georgetown dominates Notre Dame, Loyola takes care of business, Towson falls at home and Howard continues its scoring struggles in Monday's corridor rewind ...
FORTUNES RISING, TEAM
The Hoyas (13-4, 3-3 Big East) secured an unorthodox split of its two-game road swing in a three-day span.
Georgetown fell by a point at South Florida on Saturday, then turned around and hammered Notre Dame 63-47 in South Bend. It was the Fighting Irish's most lopsided home loss since a 17-point setback against Final Four-bound Villanova in 2009.
So what keyed this turnaround? Good shooting, which always helps; exquisite defensive rebounding (grabbing 80.1 percent of Notre Dame's misses); stout perimeter defense (the Irish was 2-for-16 from outside); and Otto Porter doing a little of a lot (19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks).
For all the Hoyas' obvious deficiencies (depth and consistent scoring stand out), they can generally rely on their defense. Georgetown has yielded more than 65 points to only four opponents --- UCLA, Indiana, Western Carolina and Pittsburgh --- and was really bad defensively in just one of those games. Meanwhile, Porter is averaging 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in four games since Greg Whittington was suspended, a welcome bump in production for the Hoyas' best player.
It doesn't mean Georgetown will venture deep into the postseason. But it will be a surprise if the Hoyas aren't there --- and a nuisance to eliminate when March rolls around.
FORTUNES RISING, INDIVIDUAL
Patrick Cole, Coppin State
The freshman had reached double figures just three times since Thanksgiving weekend, but uncorked a 29-point, six-rebound night as the Eagles upended Hampton 67-65 in overtime. Cole drained the tying and winning free throws as Coppin salvaged a split of its trip to the MEAC's 757 schools.
The Eagles (5-15, 2-3) find themselves in a crammed midpack in their league, with seven teams owning either two or three league losses. If Cole can re-assert himself, they'll be an aggravation --- or more --- as conference play progresses.
So how much did Calvin Thompson mean to the Bison? Let the numbers 49-49-37-36 tell the story.
It's not a locker combination or partial (and invalid) Powerball ticket. Those are the point totals Howard has piled up over the four games since the snakebitten senior went down with a foot injury a few weeks ago.
The Bison's latest loss was a 71-36 throttling at North Carolina Central, dropping Kevin Nickelberry's team to 4-16 overall and 1-5 in the MEAC. There's still a stretch of six home dates in the final nine games of the regular season to come, but it's getting hard to envision Howard salvaging much out of a decidedly rough season.
NUMBER OF NOTE
Point plateau, a career mark hit by both Erik Etherly and Dylon Cormier in Loyola's 65-60 victory at Fairfield, a triumph that secured a season sweep of the Stags.
Cormier finished with 21 points and Etherly added 16 for the Greyhounds (14-6, 6-2 Metro Atlantic), who also got 39 turnover-free minutes from guard R.J. Williams. Loyola moved into a three-way tie for second in the MAAC with Iona and Rider, one game in arrears of Niagara.
ELSEWHERE IN THE CORRIDOR
Jerrelle Benimon's latest double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) wasn't enough to stave off a second conference loss for Towson, which fell 71-69 to Georgia State. The Panthers shredded Towson (10-10, 5-2 CAA) from the perimeter, making 11 of 22 3-point attempts. ... Morgan State (5-10, 2-2 MEAC) committed 29 turnovers in a 73-71 loss at Norfolk State. It's tough to say which is more amazing for the Bears --- that they had a giveaway on more than a third of their possessions or that they still had a chance to beat one of the two remaining unbeatens in MEAC play despite those issues.
ON TAP TUESDAY
There's only 14 games nationally, so it's unsurprisingly a bit of a scant schedule in these parts. ... Maryland (14-4, 2-3 ACC) plays host to Boston College at 9 p.m. in what the Terrapins can only hope is a bounceback from their recent offensive struggles. ... Further afield, Longwood (3-16, 0-5 Big South) looks to snap a nine-game skid when it visits Liberty (5-14, 1-4).
--- Patrick Stevens