PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- It's becoming tougher and tougher to score baskets against Georgetown (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP). Not tough enough for Hoyas coach John Thompson III.
His team held Providence to 25.9 percent shooting in a 63-53 victory Saturday night, the fourth time in five games an opponent has made fewer than 35 percent of its shots against Georgetown.
But Thompson wasn't satisfied, even though the Friars went more than 14 minutes without a basket in the first half.
"I have come to expect a lot from this group," he said. "In spite of the 26 percent, we can be better."
Georgetown (20-5, 10-4 Big East) was actually better in its first game against Providence (13-15, 2-13). On Dec. 31, the Friars hit only 13 field goals and shot 25.5 percent in a 49-40 loss. They made 14 shots Saturday.
"That is the best defensive team I've seen in a long, long time," Providence coach Ed Cooley said.
Georgetown led 31-20 at halftime. The Friars cut that to 36-32 before the Hoyas went on a 13-3 run to open a 49-35 lead with 9:43 remaining. Thompson had seven points in the surge that started with 3-pointers by him and Clark.
"I don't think those 3s made them give up or anything," Georgetown's Nate Lubick said. "They went on a late run."
Providence was led by Vincent Council with 13 points. He was the only Friars player to score in double figures against a team that had allowed the second-fewest points in the Big East, 58.9 per game.
Gerard Coleman, the Friars' third-leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, missed the game because of the flu.
"Obviously, us being a little bit short-handed, with Gerard being down," Cooley said. "I thought we were a little slow in the transition game."
Georgetown won for the fourth time in five games and broke a tie for fourth place in the Big East with South Florida, which plays at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Hoyas held their biggest lead at 57-42 on two free throws by Jabril Trawick with 2:56 to play. Then the Friars chipped away, closing the margin to 58-50 on a 3-pointer by LaDontae Henton with 1:27 to go. But a dunk by Henry Sims and a free throw by Markel Starks built the lead back up to 61-50 with 47 seconds left.
"Our guys did step up and hit big shots when we needed it," Thompson III said.
Trawick is one of four Georgetown freshmen who came off the bench to combine for 12 points and five rebounds.
"They don't even seem like freshmen anymore," Clark said. "They accept their roles."
And that's "refreshing" to Thompson III.
"They aren't thinking about minutes, points, shots. They're just thinking about how they can help," he said. "That has been a big boost to this team."
Providence did have one edge -- at the free throw line. It went 21 for 31 while Georgetown was 14 of 23.
"We've got to make more," Thompson III said. "If we make our foul shots throughout the course of the game, not just at the end, then you're not as antsy coming down the stretch."
Ron Giplaye started for Coleman after going scoreless in Providence's last 10 games. But he scored on a tip-in that cut the lead to 6-4 with 2:37 gone. The Friars then went more than 14 minutes without a basket, but the Hoyas could only open a 21-11 lead.
"We had open shots," Cooley said. "We had nice looks at the basket."
Bryce Cotton broke the drought with a 3-pointer on a desperation heave just before the shot clock expired and Council scored on a fast-break layup 17 seconds later, closing the gap to 21-16 with 3:02 left in the first half. Cotton shot 3 of 17 and is 5 for 34 in his last three games.
"I thought Cotton was tired," Cooley said. "He looked a half a step slow."
Sims followed with a layup for Georgetown, but Providence hit four straight free throws and trailed just 23-20. Then the Hoyas scored the last eight points of the half in the final 1:20 on a 3-pointer by Clark, a layup by Otto Porter and another 3 by Thompson.