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Georgetown basketball edges DePaul with no more players to lose



Georgetown dodged immediate catastrophe again Saturday and defeated Big East bottom-feeder DePaul, 76-72, without McClung, who missed his third straight game with the foot injury, and with starting center Omer Yurtseven leaving the game with a sprained left ankle with 11 minutes to play.

“It’s a bad sprain,” Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing said. “I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out, but we hope — we think — we will have him back by next Saturday.”

While the Hoyas earned a needed win, an extended absence by Yurtseven in addition to McClung could leave them in dire straits. Freshman Qudus Wahab played ably in Yursteven’s absence Saturday, but after junior wing Jamorko Pickett fouled out with 1:49 to play, Georgetown finished the game with walk-on George Muresan, who closed out the win with a pair of free throws. Without Yurtseven and McClung, the team is down to a five-man rotation.

Fortunately for Georgetown, it has a week-long break before it faces Butler on the road Saturday.

The Hoyas were trailing 55-50 when Yurtseven took a hard fall under the basket and stayed down on the court for some time, clutching his left foot and ankle. When Ewing walked on the court to check on him, he made it almost to where Yurtseven sat, glanced at his center, then yelled at Wahab to get back in the huddle and get ready, later describing his only thought at the time as “next man up.” Yurtseven was helped off the court, went directly to the locker room and didn’t return, forcing the already hamstrung Hoyas to forge ahead without him.

The Hoyas were already in good position to take control of the game as DePaul’s stellar shooting faded in the second half, but halfway through the period, Georgetown hadn’t yet managed to take a lead.

Soon after Yurtseven went down, point guard Terrell Allen forced a turnover near midcourt out of the Hoyas’ press defense. He drove to the bucket, and after three missed attempts by the Hoyas, Wahab finally got a bucket to tie the game at 57.

The center then ran back on defense and contributed a key block before junior guard Jahvon Blair gave Georgetown its first lead of the game with a pair of free throws with 7:49 to play. The Hoyas took over for good less than two minutes later with two points at the foul line from Allen.

“They haven’t quit. They keep fighting,” Ewing said. “We went down huge to Seton Hall. We fought back into the game, fought back and cut it to three . . . could have had opportunities to win. But we bounced back today.”

Blair, starting his third game in place of McClung, led the team with a career-high 30 points, breaking his previous best of 23 set two games ago. The junior did not sub out Saturday and shot 11 for 18 from the field, including 4 for 10 on three-pointers.

Yurtseven added 16 points and eight rebounds in just less than 27 minutes. Allen, playing all but 98 seconds of the game, had 12 points and nine assists, just one dish off his career high. Wahab had six points, six blocks and eight rebounds off the bench in what Ewing called a quality team win.

“Six blocked shots. I don’t even know — when’s the last time we had a player on our team have six blocked shots, maybe Dikembe [Mutombo] or Alonzo [Mourning]?” Ewing said.

The victory was perhaps a deceptively meaningful one for the Hoyas, beyond the significance of surviving without both Yurtseven and McClung for 11 minutes.

Although DePaul (13-11, 1-10) has only one win in the Big East, its record belies a more respectable season.

The Blue Demons played well against nonconference competition, pulling off wins at No. 17 Iowa in November and against Texas Tech in overtime in December. Their lone conference win came against then-No. 5 Butler in January, part of what kept DePaul at No. 66 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.

DePaul Coach Dave Leitao explained his team’s record as the result of mental lapses.

“The mind is a really critical thing,” Leitao said. “In a good way, it can do some phenomenal things and the body will follow. If it’s not in a really good place, then the body will shut down on some things that you try to do every single day and every single game. We haven’t mastered that to know that through good, bad, thick and thin, you know that you do what you do every day.”

At least for 11 minutes Saturday, Georgetown did just that.

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