WASHINGTON — Georgetown and Tennessee held each other scoreless over the final four minutes, and the No. 20 Hoyas beat the Volunteers 37-36 in a display of abysmal shooting Friday night in the SEC/Big East Challenge.
On a night when the “challenge” part of the event was the task of simply putting the ball in the basket, the teams combined to make just 7 of 20 shots — from the free throw line. The field-goal shooting was just as horrid, with the Vols hitting 33 percent and the Hoyas 36 percent.
Appropriately enough, the final possession of the game consisted of an air ball by Tennessee’s Skylar McBee. The rebound went out of bounds to the Vols, and Jordan McRae’s 3-pointer at the buzzer clanged off the rim.
No player scored in double figures for either team.
Georgetown (5-1) had a great stretch last week to move into the Top 25, beating then-No. 11 UCLA and losing in overtime to top-ranked Indiana on back-to-back nights. Tennessee (4-2) came in with a two-game winning streak after a mid-November loss to Oklahoma State.
Neither team looked like a winner Friday night.
The Vols started 4 for 22 from the field and late in the first half had nearly as many fouls (10) as points (11).
The half ended with McRae putting up with air ball on a baseline runner. The rebound went to teammate Trae Golden, who hit a lucky bank shot at the buzzer to complete a half-ending 7-0 run and give the Vols an 18-16 lead — even though they were shooting 27 percent.
Georgetown did no better, also shooting 27 percent and going without a field goal for the last 10:13 of the half. Mikael Hopkins had an especially miserable time, missing three easy layups and four free throws in the first 20 minutes.
The Hoyas got some momentum early in the second half, using their defense to spur a 15-5 run capped by a nice baseline move by Markel Starks, making the score 31-23 with 12 minutes to play.
Then the Vols found a rhythm for the only time in the game, converting back-to-back transition baskets and taking the lead when McBee’s 3-pointer ended a 9-0 run.
From there it was back-and-forth, with the team trading fouls, turnovers and the occasional basket. An offensive foul on Jabril Trawick with 1:18 to play gave the Vols the ball trailing by one, but Jarnell Stokes didn’t come close with an air ball jumper with the shot clock running down.
Georgetown grabbed the rebound and called a timeout, but the Hoyas gave the ball right back when Otto Porter took his eyes off a simple pass near midcourt. The ball went out of bounds, and Tennessee had 20.9 seconds on the clock to set up a final possession.
No matter. The Vols still couldn’t make a shot.
Georgetown starter Nate Lubick suffered an apparent injury to his left arm in the first half did not play after halftime.