Georgetown showed little promise at the beginning of conference play, but no Big East team has been better over the past month. Led by one of the nation's top defenses and a formidable inside-outside duo, the Hoyas are riding their longest conference winning streak in six years.
There's little reason to think it will end Wednesday night, when the 11th-ranked Hoyas host one of the league's worst teams and seek a 12th consecutive victory over DePaul.Georgetown (19-4, 9-3) started 2/3 in league play, getting held under 50 points in losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh before giving South Florida what remains its only conference win. However, since that embarrassing loss Jan. 19, the Hoyas have won seven in a row, their longest streak in conference play since 11 straight victories in 2007.Their stingy defense ranks among the country's best, allowing averages of 55.7 points and 37.5 percent shooting. Georgetown has held nine of its last 10 opponents below 40 percent, and the three ranked teams it defeated during this win streak -- Notre Dame, Louisville and Marquette -- all failed to score more than 55 points.Sophomore Otto Porter Jr. has keyed the offense with averages of 18.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 52.2 percent shooting over the last 10 games. The reigning Big East player of the week scored 12.8 per game and shot 44.8 percent through the first 13.With Porter in foul trouble Friday at Cincinnati, Georgetown's other top offensive option stepped up. Markel Starks knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer, then hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute, including a pair after a steal.Starks is averaging 16.2 points in the last five games while hitting 45.4 percent of his 3-pointers. Freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera has provided a spark off the bench, averaging 10.6 points over the past eight games compared to 5.7 in his first 15."I think we've done a pretty good job of relying more on (Porter's) teammates to pick up the slack when he's out of the game," coach John Thompson III said. "It's a team effort."DePaul (11-14, 2-10) stopped a nine-game losing streak with a 75-69 win over Rutgers on Saturday. The Blue Demons, though, haven't won back-to-back conference games since January 2008, also the last time they defeated a ranked opponent. They've since lost 39 straight to Top 25 foes.However, DePaul did precede the Rutgers win with competitive efforts in back-to-back road games against ranked teams, losing 89-78 to Marquette and 82-78 in overtime to Notre Dame.The Blue Demons have been vexed by poor defense, particularly in conference play, where they're allowing 81.3 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting. After tying Saturday's game at 66 with 2:33 left, they held the Scarlet Knights to 1-for-5 shooting."It feels great to break the losing streak," said Brandon Young, who had 16 points. " ... This was key for us moving forward. The difference at the end today was making stops, and everyone contributed defensively."After averaging 6.1 points over his first 21 games, 5-foot-11 Worrel Clahar scored 13.0 per game in the last four while shooting 52.8 percent and averaging 5.8 assists. He scored a career-high 19 against Rutgers.Georgetown claimed an 83-75 victory at DePaul last season in the most recent meeting. The Hoyas, who haven't lost in this series since 1994, have shot a combined 53.8 percent in the last three matchups.