Grudge match: Syracuse, Georgetown to square off in Carrier Dome for final time before Orange’s move to ACC

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ It’s not hard to pinpoint exactly when the hatred was born, when the ground finally cracked and a schism separating Georgetown and Syracuse would dictate the terms of a legendary rivalry.It’s not hard to explain when that innate dislike and loathing first grew legs, when a rivalry dating back to 1930 shifted from historic to hostile, with punches thrown and prank phone calls among players placed.Feb. 13, 1980. Georgetown 52, Syracuse 50. The closing of Manley Field House. The opening of floodgates.Eric “Sleepy” Floyd hit two free throws to preserve a win for the ages, and head coach John Thompson grabbed the microphone belonging to the public address announcer to declare Manley Field House “officially closed.”That game, those free throws and Thompson’s proclamation were the springboard that catapulted the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry to new heights. It became one of the premier matchups in college sports, riddled with the same emotion and physicality even as the faces on the court changed.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut another chapter of the epic rivalry comes to a close Saturday, as No. 8 Syracuse and No. 11 Georgetown meet Saturday at 4 p.m. for the final time in the Carrier Dome as members of the Big East. A record crowd of 35,012 is expected to soak in what could be the Hoyas’ last appearance in the Salt City, and greet them one more time with three-plus decades of unprintable words.“It will be a great game,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said, “as Syracuse-Georgetown games always have been.”So important, exciting and meaningful is Saturday’s clash that Syracuse players were questioned about it even before being asked to reflect on Wednesday’s win over Providence, which was barely 15 minutes old. They fielded questions with ice bags still on their knees and tape not yet removed from their ankles. Reporters were less interested in the details of the 25-point thrashing of the Friars than the expectations for Saturday.Wednesday was the ultimate trap game, and all the Orange did was turn in its best performance of the Big East season.“This could have been a bad situation because everybody is looking forward to the Georgetown game,” forward C.J. Fair said.And understandably so. There have been 87 meetings between the two schools dating back to Feb. 15, 1930 — a 40-18 Syracuse victory — that have produced some of the greatest games the Big East has ever seen.The names that have taken the floor in the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry form a pantheon of college basketball all by themselves. Floyd, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, Dwayne Washington, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, Alonzo Mourning — the list could go on.And that’s before mentioning Boeheim and Thompson, a pair of coaching icons with two national titles and 1,500 wins between them, and without whom the rivalry never would have skyrocketed.“This is what you play for, just having the experience like this,” Syracuse guard Brandon Triche said. “To have this amount of people come, yelling, it’s going to be a great crowd. This is one of the reasons why you come to Syracuse.”And what’s a rivalry without great stories? Ewing threw a punch that barely missed Washington in the 1985 Big East tournament semifinals. John Duren used to call Syracuse players after games just to crack jokes.Donovan McNabb — the quarterback — even scored 10 points in a 77-74 win over the Hoyas in 1997.“I’m looking forward to it,” Fair said. “There’s going to be a lot of people here, a lot of Syracuse fans, so of course you want to put on a show for them. Everybody wants to get a win, and you don’t want to close the Big East series playing Georgetown with a loss.”In the underbelly of the Dome on Wednesday, Providence point guard Vincent Council said the crowd is Syracuse’s “sixth man” that brings the atmosphere to life and startles young players.Council’s comment came on a night when a crowd of 23,717 sparsely covered the gray bleachers and failed to extend all the way to the ceiling. Come Saturday, an additional 11,000-plus people will cram into the Dome, filling every nook and cranny as they become Syracuse’s sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth men on the court.It will be 33 years since the Hoyas stunned an entire city by closing down Manley Field House with a gut-wrenching, two-point win, and dozens of players have shuffled in and out of the lineups since then.But the hate never faded, not even close. And on Saturday, it will come to a head one last time in Syracuse.Said Fair: “This game is for bragging rights.” Comments Published on February 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13last_img

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