The Georgetown Hoyas narrowly avoided a post-Louisville letdown with a 49-40 victory over the Providence Friars in the Big East home opener. The 9-point final margin of victory belies the fact that the Friars repeatedly cut the lead down to one in the waning minutes of a very, very ugly offensive game. Against Louisville, we found out that the scrappy young Hoyas could win when Henry Sims and Jason Clark are having off-days. Today we learned that Georgetown can still claw out of a victory when everyone looks pitiful on offense. Despite low scores for finesse, Sims and Clark managed to picked up points at the foul line and off second chance opportunities, while Otto Porter did a tremendous job controlling the glass (15 rebounds!) as the Hoyas found just enough offense to secure the win.
The sluggish narrative that dominated the game started early. The Hoyas held the Friars to four points in the first eleven minutes of the game... but only held a 17-4 lead.
More offensive struggles after the jump
Sims was dominant defensively, but nothing was falling on the offensive end. The bright spot of the opening frame was the best stretch we've seen from Nate Lubick against higher-level competition. After looking over his head in other big games, Nate came out with the below-the-rim-wrecking-ball mentality that suits him well. In addition to a nice double move in the post for an open layup, Nate took a charge, dove to knock a ball lose, had a ferocious swat and hit a mid-range shot (we'll try to forgive and forget that three attempt). Things loosened up a bit before the half but Georgetown still took a 27-19 lead to half that felt insurmountable thanks to the pace of the game and Providence's dreadful offense.
But the heart attack Hoyas (that label even feels a bit strange since this game was just boring for long stretches) were determined to reemerge for one final time in 2011!
Henry had a sizable advantage inside and everyone knew it, so the Hoyas kept feeding him down low. But the ball never made it's way into the hoop. In a three possessions stretch, Hank missed a shot, traveled and then had the ball stolen. As he was struggling inside, the Hoyas went ice cold from deep. Otto, Greg Whittington, Clark, Hollis Thompson and even Markel Starks (I thought he didn't miss any more) missed jump shot after jump shot. The Hoyas seemingly could put anything through the basket until they previously clanged it off the rim, and the lead slowly slipped away.
With just under 8 minutes to go, Jason Clark would wrest the lead from Providence for good with a lay-up off a missed shot. Henry continued to struggled to connect down low and finished with a 2-13 night from the floor, but he managed to soften that off-night 7-9 from the line, with a number of those makes coming down the stretch. And Otto Porter continued to do big things -- scoring a huge lay-up off an offensive rebound with four minutes left after Providence had cut it to one. He also put the game out of reach when he controlled an offensive rebound with 45 seconds left and the Hoyas up four. In the next 45 second the Hoyas finally kicked it into another gear with two final scores to push the lead to a deceptively comfortable number.
New Year celebrations start with a sigh of relief and maybe a few pumps on the break of the delusion train as the team searches for an offensive identity, but damn, they never let up on defense and once again out-toughed the opposition in the final stretch of the game that was in doubt. 2012 is looking like a fine time to be a Hoya.
Marquette is neXt.