Just a few days after submitting one of its best performances of the season, Georgetown turned in one of its worst, bricking and fouling its way through a lifeless 70-52 loss at Providence Wednesday night. The Hoyas were without junior big man Joshua Smith, who did not make the trip because of an academic issue that kept him on the Hilltop. Even so, Georgetown's problems were much deeper than missing its big man.
This loss was the Hoyas' fourth of the season, and rates with the Northeastern debacle as the most embarrassing. Georgetown didn't score for the first 5 minutes of the game, and struggled to get anything going thereafter. Markel Starks made just 4 of 15 shots from the field, tying his lowest scoring output of the season. Nothing was falling for the senior, who couldn't bury an outside shot and didn't earn a trip to the line.
The absence of Starks's usually reliable production and the absence of Smith entirely exposed the offensive weakness of the rest of the roster. Two Hoyas showed up offensively on Wednesday, one more familiar than the other. Sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in an efficient 19 points, including a pair of triples that briefly tied the game in the first half, buoying Georgetown's hopes in an otherwise miserable game. The other contributor was junior big man Mikael Hopkins, who scored 12 points in a fashion that wasn't always convincing but nevertheless was effective, particularly compared to his teammates.
Otherwise, the Hoyas were an offensive wasteland. Georgetown shot below 40 percent from the field, and aside from Starks, Smith-Rivera, Hopkins, and Nate Lubick (5 points on 2 of 6 shooting) barely shot at all. The remaining Hoyas took just 6 field goal attempts total as JT3 cycled through various ineffective wings. Jabril Trawick struggled to create any offense, ran into early foul trouble, and generally looked frustrated, culminating in a flagrant foul that looks bad on the heels of his technical against St. John's. Aaron Bowen provided energy on the boards but plenty of mistakes, to the tune of 6 turnovers. Reggie Cameron saw daylight briefly before being relegated to the bench, a confusing sequence on a night when Georgetown so badly needed offense. That scoring wasn't coming from Stephen Domingo, who shuttled in, didn't shoot when left open, then went back to the bench. Down low, Moses Ayegba pounded the glass but revealed that he's no Josh Smith on offense.
On defense, Georgetown generally was solid in vanilla, half-court arrangements. But the offensive woes led JT3 to try to use the defense to create badly needed points, both through the press and in half-court zone looks. The press, neglected for too many years, was perhaps overused Wednesday night, as the Friars eventually broke through with ease, finding open looks in transition. And a new-to-me 1-3-1 zone may have been more confusing to Georgetown than it was to Providence, which exploited the zone's exposed corners for open three-pointers.
Cynicism was on full display in Hoya nation Wednesday night, and with good reason. Georgetown was without Smith, whose production has been up and down. Without the big fella, the only two Hoyas who contribute with any degree of consistency are Starks and Smith-Rivera. Only Starks reliably creates opportunities for the other Georgetown players, and on Wednesday he couldn't create nearly enough of those.
Some credit goes to the Friars, a hard-working and well-coached bunch that exploited the transition opportunities and perimeter looks that the Hoyas gave them. But this was as much a Georgetown loss as a Providence win. The Hoyas suffered their first defeat in Big East play rather than claiming their first road win of the season. We'll see whether Georgetown can cure its road woes on Saturday, at Butler.