The 15th ranked Georgetown Hoyas (7-1) survived an upset scare from the plucky Towson Tigers with a 46-40 win at the Verizon Center. Greg Whittington led four Hoyas in double figures with 11 points, though the story of this game was not the expected easy win in Jerrelle Benimon's return to Verizon but rather Georgetown's inability to score baskets against one of the poorest defensive teams in the country.
In one of the worst first half performances of the JTIII era, the Hoyas led Towson just 17-15 at halftime. Georgetown shot 5-30 from the floor, and was outrebounded by the smaller Tigers 23-17. Perhaps most concerning was that it wasn't a particularly sloppy performance either, as Georgetown committed just 4 turnovers. Rather, the Hoyas offense completely shut down, as possession after possession the Hoyas settled for long jumpshots and failed to even attempt to get the ball inside. A lot of this had to do with the play of center Mikael Hopkins, who was 0-3 from the floor and was seemingly stripped or blocked on a handful of other touches. Thankfully, Georgetown's defense was up to the task and kept the Hoyas in the game, as Towson shot an equally horrid 6-27 from the floor and turned the ball over 8 times.
If you were like me, you figured that the first half was an anomaly as you dove into your nachos and light beers at halftime. However, fresh in the back of your mind was the Tennessee game, and though you tried to suppress the thought that Georgetown could actually lose this game against the Tigers, you couldn't shake it, and unfortunately the second half did nothing to help you relax.
In the second half, the Hoyas continued to fail to get anything going on the offensive end, seemingly going through the motions of the Princeton offense while passing the ball around the perimeter back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth and well, you get the picture. Markel Starks, the junior point guard who needs to step up and lead this team in games just like this, was listless and ineffective, often settling for long threes instead of driving to the hoop and creating easy looks for his teammates. Starks shot 2-11 from the floor. His teammates weren't any better, as Greg Whittington was 4-13, Hopkins was 1-5, Porter was 4-10 and Jabril Trawick was 0-3. Only Nate Lubick shot better than 50% from the floor, making 3 of his 5 attempts.
Again, the defense was Georgetown's salvation, as the Hoyas forced Towson into 10 second half turnovers and did a better job of getting the ball inside. Though still missing shots, Georgetown did a better job of getting to the free throw line, and the Hoyas 16-6 advantage on free throw makes eventually tilted the outcome in its favor.
There's no getting around it: the Georgetown offense has been horrid over the past three games. Even including the 64-point outburst against Texas, Georgetown is shooting just 37 percent from the field during the past three games, including the woeful 29.8% today. The Hoyas have had no answer when their opponents have gone zone, aimlessly passing the ball around the perimeter before settling for a deep three. Part of the problem may be tactical, as JTIII still sticks with a Porter-Lubick-Hopkins front line against a zone that includes little outside shooting and relegates Porter to the perimeter, where he's less effective than in attacking the core of the zone. Of course, the guards are not without fault, as they (including Whittington) shot just 1 of 12 from three against Towson and have managed just 5 of 30 from deep including the Tennessee and Texas wins.
Nevertheless a win is a win, and the Hoyas don't get a chance to think about this performance too long before taking the court against Longwood on Monday. Hopefully JT3 works out some of the troubling kinks in practice before then, as Georgetown is running out of precious time to see what some players on the bench, namely anyone outside of Trawick and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, can do before conference play begins next month.
On a bright note, we as fans can also take a break from the troubles of this Georgetown offense, as we get to focus on a more beautiful game, as Georgetown men's soccer takes the
field pitch against the Indiana Hoosiers in the College Cup championship game match tomorrow at 1pm. Go Hoyas!