With 14:47 remaining in a two-point game with the Georgetown Hoyas, junior guard Matt Coleman caught a swing pass from sophomore forward Gerald Liddell and sank a 25-foot three-pointer to give Texas a one-point lead.
His uncontested knockdown continued a hot trend for Coleman on a night when everything seemed to fall. Coleman’s shot, a steady foot behind the NBA three-point line at Madison Square Garden, marked his fifth three-pointer of the night, a career high for the senior point guard.
The effects of that shot were erased just 18 seconds later when Georgetown’s junior forward Jamorko Pickett answered with a shot of his own, swinging momentum back in favor of the Hoyas. Minutes later, Georgetown rattled off a 12-0 run to take a commanding 62-52 lead with 9:48 remaining.
For fans tuning in late, it seemed as if Georgetown had dominated the game for 40 minutes as a five-point halftime lead turned into an 82-66 loss for the Longhorns.
“We did not have that same aggressiveness in the second half as the first half,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “The guys responded well in a tight and sophisticated game at Purdue. We did not show that tonight.”
Even with their crushing first loss of the season and second in two years as a ranked team, Smart still took notice of Coleman’s career night.
While Smart seemed pleased with Coleman’s performance on the stat sheet in his career night, he said Coleman needed to get others involved.
Smart said most of Coleman’s threes were on the back end of plays, adding that he “needs to create more for others” while calling on his team to do more offensively.
“He is our leader and a guy like that needs to be our engine, but we need more than him scoring 22 points,” Smart said. “Guys need to do more offensively.”
Across the court on the Georgetown bench, head coach Patrick Ewing and sophomore guard Mac McClung were pleased and encouraged by Georgetown’s resilience as it earned its third straight win over a ranked opponent, dating to 2017.
“I think it’s just a part of growing as a team as the season goes along,” McClung said.
Ewing, in particular, was delighted with his team’s second half defense, which held Texas to under 30% shooting.
“I thought we did a much better job of defending the (three-point) line (in the second half),” Ewing said.
Ewing, a former Knicks legend and Hall of Fame player, was welcomed back to the Garden with a warm reception from fans in attendance. With his team leading by double digits with fewer than three minutes remaining and Texas’ sophomore guard Courtney Ramey at the free-throw line, Ewing turned to face the crowd and waved his arms in the air.
The cheers started out small at first, but gradually increased as the crowd applauded the Knicks legend, understanding the gravity of Ewing’s coaching performance in his return home.
“It felt like it was back in the Knicks days,” Ewing said. “I just wanted my team to know that we have a lot of supporters here. I wanted them to stand up and be heard.”
Friday night, Ewing’s Hoyas will take on the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils in the 2K Empire Classic championship while Texas will take on California in the consolation game.
Even with the spotlight of a primetime matchup of perennial powerhouses, Ewing is still taking in the moment to coach in his old arena.
“It’s always great to come back to New York,” Ewing said. “This is still my home.”