After an uninspiring January, Georgetown regained its form in the biggest home game of the year to date, beating the UConn Huskies handily by a score of 58-44. It wasn't a flawless game by any means, as the Hoyas stumbled out of the gate and UConn clearly played miles below its potential. However, it was a satisfying game that verified Georgetown's top 15 ranking in the polls. The Hoyas swarming team defense allowed them to creep into the lead late in the 1st half, Hollis Thompson caught fire to extend it to double digits in the 2nd, and Henry Sims all but ended the game with a ferocious dunk over Jeremy Lamb at the five and a half minute mark. In between, it's worth noting the brief but electrifying performance by freshman Mikael Hopkins.
UConn was dominant for almost exactly four and half minutes tonight -- to open the game. Scoring on six of its first seven possessions, Andre Drummond was out-muscling Sims and throwing down uncontested dunks. All those who voted to stand with Nate Lubick in yesterday's poll must have groaned as he turned over the ball on the very first possession on his patented almost-an-great-pass-but-just-a-second-too-late move and was promptly taken out at the 17:30 mark with the Hoyas down 9-3.
But the defense kicked in. Over the next seventeen and half minutes, Georgetown allowed only 12 points and took a commanding 31-21 lead into the half as the offense started to show signs of life. In particular, Hollis Thompson started to heat up, scoring 10 points in the last nine minutes, putting back a few three balls.
And it was obvious the JT3 made it a priority to get Hollis Thompson the ball. THANK GOD.
More Hollywood, Hopkins and others after the jump
Hollis is learning to be a scorer, but the problem is he is not exceptional at creating for himself. We've seen him make an array of leaners and faders to go along with his three point shot, but despite a few trick shots this season, off-the-bounce isn't his specialty. So the Hoyas need a team effort to make sure they find Hollis when he gets himself open. And they did tonight. Markel Starks looked off Sims on the opening possessions of the half to wait for Hollis to curl around a screen (he missed the shot badly, but that's besides the point). Hollis went on to score the first six points of the half. It was a pleasure to watch the offense function as it should -- players making smart decisions to put their hot shooting teammate in the best position to score on nearly every play.
The most enjoyable plot-line of the night was Mikael Hopkins. With Henry getting worked early by Drummond, it was clear that Hopkins would probably need to see some minutes -- and he made the most of it. In the first half, he backed home a long straight-away floater before the offense had found it's footing, and in the second half he had a highlight reel 30 second stretch. Playing in the center of the zone, he soared for a huge rejection that the Hoyas were able to corral. And then after the shot-clock wore down on offense, he drove somewhat wildly to the rim and made an off-balance lay-up. It was beautiful. It's not the type of play you can count on, but it was incredible to see him produce, show great confidence, athleticism and potential -- and you can't ignore that he cut a pretty formidable figure at the center of that zone. He even brought the Kevin Garnett no-baskets-after-the-whistle mentality.
On defense, the Hoyas were aided by poor shooting and selfish play of the Huskies, but with a conglomerate of zone and man-to-man defense, the Huskies could not take advantages of any openings given to them. There were open shots out of the zone, and a couple break downs that lead to easy dunk/lay-ups, but overall, the intensity was excellent. And you have to give Nate credit for bouncing back and coming in a ferocious foul on Drummond that caused him to miss the and-one foul shot by a couple of feet, probably because Nate had nearly taken out one of his eyes. It's the one thing that's really been missing to his game this year that was so valuable -- toughness. Part of his swagger last year wasn't that he was scrappy enough to dive on the ground first (which he did tonight as well) but he chances are he'd give you a shoulder in the process. He tacked on a few highlight assists as well, so hopefully his confidence is ticking up again.
At the end of the day, it's a win by 14 over UConn at home. Henry Sims stepped up in the second half and wore down UConn during their only attempt to make a run in the second half. There can be no complaints. This team is back on the upward trajectory we saw in 2011.
An 11AM trap game versus South Florida at home is NeXt (and you know who after that).