Georgetown set the stage for the first of two much-anticipated showdowns against Syracuse with an offensively charged 90-66 blowout of struggling DePaul.
But while D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 33 points, the most for a Hoyas freshman since 1996, the best news for the team was that Otto Porter Jr. appeared to be no worse for the wear despite sitting out most of the second half with a right knee injury.
"I think he's going to be okay," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "He banged knees, and he was sore. I think it scared him more than anything else. But I don't think it's anything big. I thought we were able to get by without really putting him back in. We were almost fortunate in that regard. If things got tight, I could've put him back in."
Porter knocked knees with a DePaul player at the 12:33 mark in the first half, immediately crumpling to the ground. He stayed in the game, later massaged his knee on the bench and finished his night with 11 points and three rebounds but never looked comfortable. He played the first three minutes of the second half but headed to the locker room with Georgetown ahead, 49-35.
In his absence the Hoyas (20-4, 10-3 Big East) had their second-best shooting night (63.5 percent) of the season en route to their eighth straight victory. Only Porter, who was 3-for-9, and freshman Stephen Domingo, who went 0-for-2, shot worse than 60 percent.
Smith-Rivera came off the bench to knock down 10 of 12 shots, including 5 of 6 from the arc for the most by a Georgetown freshman since Victor Page had 34 in an 84-76 win over Villanova in the Big East tournament on March 8, 1996.
"It took me a little while," Smith-Rivera said. "But it's a comfort level and I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with the system and our team in general, we have a lot of young guys so I think it's like that for everybody."
After scoring 30 points in his first two games, including 19 in Georgetown's season-opening win over Duquesne, Smith-Rivera didn't score in double figures again until Big East play. But he's had at least 11 points in six of Georgetown's last nine games.
"If you look at his stat line, he hadn't shot it that well from three," Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell said, referring to Smith-Rivera's .296 average. "But if you look at his form, you understand if he gets a wide open look, it's going to go in."
Nate Lubick added 15 points and eight rebounds, Jabril Trawick had 13 points, and Markel Starks had eight points and a career high-matching seven assists before 9,987 at Verizon Center. After trading baskets with the Blue Demons (11-15, 2-11) on four consecutive possessions, the Hoyas broke open the game with a 9-2 run and finished the half ahead 43-29, having scored the most points in the first half all season.
The win moved Georgetown back into a first-place tie in the Big East with Marquette (19-6, 10-3) and the Orange (22-4, 10-3), who will host the Hoyas in front of a record crowd at Carrier Dome on Saturday.
"Every win is a big win," Thompson said. "I was very nervous coming into this game... Yesterday, we probably had our worst practice of the year, by far. Once we settled down on the defensive end and made things more difficult for them to score, we fell into our rhythm on the offensive end as well."