Ok everybody, deep breath in...and out...this one is over and Georgetown escapes. We were all worried about the possible letdown after the big Louisville win or maybe the team being distracted while looking ahead to the game against Marquette this week, and we were almost right. Instead, Georgetown did just enough to slip past Providence on Saturday afternoon and now we can all spend our New Year's Eve drinking to the Top 10 ranking we will surely see the Hoyas possess come Monday as a result of losses by #11 Wisconsin and #10 Florida.
This one looked like it might be salted away early, as Georgetown worked up a 27-13 lead with under 2 minutes left in the first half against a Providence team who could not buy a bucket. Incredibly cold shooting from the Friars' 3 C's, Council, Cotton, and Coleman, contributed largely to this dismal start, and turning the ball over 8 times in the first half didn't help either. A poor finish to the half left the Hoyas with only an 8-point lead heading into break, though. The terrible play by Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson nearly lost this game for the Hoyas. Despite the fact that Sims had a considerable size advantage in this one, he somehow could not manage to find the bottom of the net and Sims and Thompson shot a combined 4-22. A huge effort from Otto Porter bailed the Old Blue and Gray out once again, as he snagged 12 rebounds (3 offensive, 2 of which came down the stretch and led to Georgetown baskets).
Nate Lubick's First Half Effort - FINALLY I can say I was impressed with something Thundersnow did! Lubick had all 4 of his points and rebounds, his 1 steal, his 1 assist, and 1 of his 2 blocks in a 10-minutes span in the first half. Granted, he did next to nothing for the rest of the game, he missed both of the free throws he took, and he shot ANOTHER 3-pointer (which, of course, he missed), I am impressed with Lubick amping up the effort in this one, even if it was for just about 10 minutes.
Henry Sims' Defense - Despite Henry's inability to score, he showed up on the defensive end this afternoon. 4 blocks and 8 rebounds for a guy who averages 1.5 and 5.3 a game, respectively, was sort of expected in this game because of Sims' size advantage. Nonetheless, these are the type of stats we'd like to see from Henry going forward, on the defensive side at least.
Forcing Turnovers Instead of Committing Them - Georgetown finally won the turnover battle, committing only 7 to Providence's 13. Georgetown's tenacious defense in the first half caused the frustrated Friars to start forcing things on the offensive side of the court, resulting in even more mistakes. The press didn't work so great for forcing turnovers today, but keeping Providence off the scoreboard early definitely helped.
Inability to Finish the Half Strongly - As mentioned before, Georgetown had a 14-point lead with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half and were completely in control of the game. Providence then went on a mini 6-0 run to end the half. In a game in which it was obvious nobody was going to be scoring very many points, causing a lead of that size to shrink by almost 50% in such a short period of time after scoring 13 points through 18 minutes surely gave the pesky Friars a significant amount of confidence going into the locker room. One thing an elite team cannot do is allow lesser teams to stay in games. Georgetown's inability to finish the first half strongly allowed Providence to stay in the game.
Allowing Providence into the Bonus Early - The Friars were into the bonus with 8:05 remaining in the first half. Providence was shooting poorly from the field and Georgetown provided them with a way to score points without even having to attempt a shot for the 40% of the first half. As a result, Providence finished the half making as many free throws as field goals (6). This contributed to Georgetown's inability to hold their lead moving into halftime, as noted above.
Not Feeding the Hot Hand - The most infuriating part of this game, aside from Hank's complete ineptitude on the offensive side of the court, was Markel Starks taking just 3 shots. While I realize that Starks was in foul trouble and finished the game with 4 fouls, he did play 25 minutes and he has been, by a WIDE margin, the hottest player on this team. This guy carried you past Memphis and through Louisville, why would you not rely on him to provide much-needed offense when the rest of the team was cold?
Three Key Plays You May Not Remember:
1) With Georgetown hanging onto a precarious 7-point lead a few minutes into the second half, LaDontae Henton stole the ball from Hank Sims and with a chance to narrow the lead to 5, Hank made up for his turnover by blocking Vincent Council's layup attempt. 4 seconds later, Jason Clark hit a layup that extended the Hoya lead to 9. This delayed the Friar onslaught for a small time, as it took Providence another 3 minutes to whittle the lead down to 5.
2) Georgetown was up 13 with just over 9 minutes left in the first half when Clark committed a foul. Before Providence could even inbound the ball, Lubick was slapped with a foul as well. Two fouls with no time run off the clock. Some senseless work while the ball wasn't in play gave Georgetown their 6th foul, giving the Friars free throws for the rest of the half.
3) Up 27-13 with 2 minutes to play in the first half, Henry Sims was given the ball deep in the paint but missed a layup that would have put Georgetown up 16 with time running down in the half. 5 seconds later, Bryce Cotton hit a 3-pointer and Georgetown's lead was just 11. Sims' missed opportunity caused a 5-point swing which provided Providence with momentum to finish the half.
It Was Over When: Markel Starks stole the ball from Vincent Council with 30 seconds remaining, dished to Jason Clark, who ran the floor and dumped the ball in the hoop with the foul to give Georgetown the 9-point lead they would finish the game with.
Now for a big home test against Marquette on Wednesday.