Plenty of Aaron Bowen Dunk Time Tuesday night in MSG. - Elsa
Hoyas Turn It On Under the Bright Lights, Hook Longhorns
Georgetown kept the stingy defense that ensured their last, low-scoring victory while returning to form offensively, cruising to a surprisingly easy 64-41 win over a listless Texas squad Tuesday night. Playing their last high-profile game of the non-conference slate, the Hoyas took advantage of a putrid Texas offense to create opportunities in transition, build a sizable lead, and eventually even get some run for the youngins.
Tuesday's game started not unlike how Friday's eyesore of a win over Tennessee concluded, with the teams combining for just one point and four turnovers over the first five possessions. But even a number of sloppy possessions couldn't hold back your Hoyas forever. Otto Porter got things rolling with an inbound play that he turned into a nifty turn-around. The Hoya press caused another Longhorn turnover resulting in Greg Whittington setting up Markel Starks for a lay-in, then Starks and Mikael Hopkins took turns feeding Nate Lubick, who converted a pair of lay-ups.
The Hoyas had scored the game's first nine points, and didn't stop there. Georgetown and Texas's Sheldon McClellan traded baskets for a while before Porter made consecutive baskets--a turn-around that will be unstoppable once he masters it, and an uncontested put-back--sparking a run that put the Hoyas up 26-9 with six minutes to play in the half. From there, the game was never in doubt, as Texas pulled within single digits just once, for a total of sixteen seconds.
Of course, the fact that minutes were getting taken off the scoreboard faster than Texas was adding points to it tells you it wasn't just the Hoya offense that was powering their rout. While Friday's game win over Tennessee was replete with measures of both teams' offensive ineptitude, Tuesday's low-lights were reserved for the Longhorns. Texas committed 20 turnovers, the bulk in the early-game stretch that saw the Hoyas build their lead. Even when the Longhorns weren't giving the ball away, they couldn't make any shots, connecting on just 29 percent of their field goal attempts for the entire game. And even when the Longhorns drew whistles, they found the charity stripe nearly as dry, making just 11 of their 21 free throws. Were it not for the extra possessions generated by 9 Longhorn offensive rebounds and 14 Hoya turnovers, the blowout might have been far worse.
By the time JTIII pulled the regulars to give the young guys a few minutes of burn, there were three clear stars for the evening. The first goes to Otto Porter, who submitted a typically stuffed stat sheet of 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. And, if this is possible, even those numbers seem to understate Porter's impact, as he seems to accumulate them at particularly opportune times. With Georgetown's lead reduced to just 10 early in the second half, Porter put on a display for the ensuing five-plus minutes, tallying a pair of baskets, both of his assists (including a gorgeous post feed to Lubick), a pair of rebounds, a block, and a steal. The last of these was not so much a swipe as an ambush, as Porter quickly and mericlessly wrestled the ball away from an unsuspecting Longhorn before laying the ball in the basket, bolstering the lead to 19 points and calming any lingering Hoya nerves.
While, as with most Hoya victories, I could spend the whole recap gushing about Porter, the two juniors were terrific as well. Aside from a compression sleeve and a jump shot that he converted thanks to an, um, emphatic bank, Lubick showed no ill signs of the elbow injury he suffered against Tennessee, matching his career high with 13 points while also grabbing 6 rebounds. Lubick may be emerging as the bellwether of the Hoya offense: five of his six baskets were assisted, while the sixth, the jumper described above, got some help from the backboard. He moved to open spots in the Texas zone and filled the lanes in transition.
His classmate Markel Starks also put forth a solid night, bouncing back from a disappointing showing against Tennessee with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. The junior guard made a number of smooth mid-range shots off the dribble, and particularly thrived as part of the Hoyas' early-game press, using the transition opportunities to score and to set up others.
While these three were the obvious stars, others had highlights as well. Foul trouble and the large margin of victory conspired to limit Hopkins's minutes, but he had a great feed to Lubick, some other nice ball movement, and a steal in limited action. Whittington suffered through his worst offensive night in a while but still grabbed six rebounds and had three blocks. Two of those rejections were particularly memorable: in one, on the heels of a failed alley-oop, Cool Whit slammed the ball off the backboard; later, he controlled his own block then fed Jabril Trawick for a transition lay-up.
Even the end-of-rotation players had some notable moments. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera came off a high pick-and-roll and promptly fed the big screener, Moses Ayegba, who slammed it home with authority. Stephen Domingo made a mid-range jumper and then canned his first career three-pointer, perhaps shaking off some early season yips. Aaron Bowen made a smooth baseline move that resulted in an emphatic dunk, causing so many Hoya fans to wonder for the umpteenth time whether he deserves a bit more playing time. Bradley Hayes was spotty, selling out for a couple of blocks but then settling down to play solid post defense. And Brandon Bolden took off his warm-ups for the first time. Oh, and CAPRIO!!
The win wasn't flawless. Georgetown made too many careless turnovers, shot just 41 percent from the field, and played down to Texas's level for much of the second half. But there were many more positives to be drawn from this game: the consistent defensive excellence; Porter's continued brilliance; and Lubick's stellar return to the court, to name just a few.
Georgetown can savor this one for a few days before returning to action to action in the First Annual Jerrelle Benimon Bowl, Saturday against Towson. Until then, Hoya Saxa.