Georgetown punctuated an otherwise uncertain pre-Big East slate Saturday with a one-sided 92-57 win over Florida International. The Hoyas stifled the Panthers early, running up a 36-point margin at intermission that lasted through the second half.
Georgetown left no doubt from the opening tip, sniping from inside the arc while smothering Florida International defensively. Fourth-year swing man Aaron Bowen started in place of sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who was benched, likely for just one game, for a late return from Christmas break. The new starting group proved as stout defensively as Florida International was inept with the ball. Facing a longer, more athletic Hoya defense, the Golden Panthers made just 1 of its first 13 shots, scoring just 4 points in nearly 13 minutes of game action and failing to notch a point for more than 10 minutes. Georgetown mixed a series of defensive looks at the hapless FIU attack, forcing seven turnovers during the first-half Panther drought and a season-high 18 giveaways overall.
FIU wasn't just overmatched on one end of the floor, as Georgetown bullied its way inside on offense. For the game, the Hoyas made 69 percent of their shots inside the arc, with Nate Lubick (7 of 9 for 15 points) and Josh Smith (4 of 6, 8 points) finding particularly easy looks inside. The front court wasn't the only side to shine, as Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks joined Lubick in scoring 15 points, and the two guards also combined to hand out 10 assists between them. The Hoyas will continue to battle spacing issues as the season wears on, but were able to get inside looks early and often against Florida International. Spacing is an issue caused in part by Georgetown's outside shooting: Saturday, the Hoyas made a good-enough 5 of 14 triples, with freshman Reggie Cameron burying an encouraging pair of triples.
By half time, Georgetown led by an eye-popping 50-14 margin, the latter score marking the Hoyas' best defensive effort since yielding just 13 to Temple in 2009. While the second half produced predictably lax effort on both ends, the Hoyas kept the game well out of reach for the rest of the game, allowing rest for the starters and minutes for the deep reserves, including David Allen, who hit a victory-cigar triple.
Eleven games in, it's hard to really peg these Hoyas. Starks, Smith-Rivera, and to a lesser degree Smith have been offensive stalwarts. Lubick, Jabril Trawick (8 points, 2 rebounds Saturday), and Mikael Hopkins (7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) contribute defense and effort, but generally don't initiate offense and in particular don't stretch the floor. Bowen likewise is an energetic role player, while Cameron has potential but only sometimes production as a sniper. While the core offensive trio plus several rotation players ensures a certain baseline of play, it's hard to see how this team's ceiling will rise over the next three month.
Still, a 35-point win appropriately will produce some optimism, particularly with the blank slate of conference play approaching. That schedule begins Tuesday, when Georgetown hosts DePaul to open the new Big East.