Georgetown was ahead, 32-25, early in the second half when Porter's first basket of the game ignited the decisive spurt before the raucous crowd of 20,972, the largest ever for a college basketball game in the greater Washington, D.C., area.
Starks drained two of his five 3-pointers during the stretch and Smith-Rivera's jumper with 7:21 remaining put the Hoyas ahead 52-31, leading to the Georgetown students chanting "A-C-C, A-C-C."
The Hoyas entered the day tied with No. 8 Louisville and No. 15 Marquette. Regardless of how those schools fare against Notre Dame and Saint John's respectively on Saturday, Georgetown owns the tiebreakers.
Georgetown overcame an 0-2 start in conference play and the loss of second-leading scorer Greg Whittington because of an academic suspension.
Asked how his team conquered such obstacles, John Thompson III said: "First of all, this group, they listen. They believe in each other. They believe in me. And if you have that, it's easy to figure things out."
In the game's final minutes, the elder Thompson rose from seat along the baseline near Georgetown's bench, holding a blue and gray scarf above his head.
The gesture drew thunderous approval from the full-throated faithful, but the act was also directed at the Orange-clad fans Thompson playfully sparred with during his years on the sideline.
"They expect me to so; I don't disappoint," the former coach said. "But, I have a great deal of respect for that program. That program and us competing against one another has meant an awful lot."
NOTES: Georgetown last swept Syracuse during the 2001-02 season. ... The Orange entered the day tied for fourth in the conference with Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The top four seeds in the conference tournament receive a double bye into the quarterfinals. ... Georgetown alums at the Verizon Center for the series finale included Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning.