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Bully Ball: Georgetown Overcomes Slow Start, Overpowers Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 78-62

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Joshua Smith bowls his way to double-double, Mikael Hopkins and Aaron Bowen help Hoyas overwhelm upstart Islanders

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown overcame a sloppy, listless first half Tuesday night to run over and away from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the second half, easing its way to a 78-62 victory. Joshua Smith had his most complete game as a Hoya, putting up 20 points, hauling in 12 rebounds, and generally playing with more energy and activity than in any other game since arriving on the Hilltop.

Things were ugly, early for the Hoyas, who couldn't contain the opposing attack. The Islanders were smaller and quicker than the Hoyas, spreading the floor with dribble-drives and active bigs who probed for fissures in the Hoya back line. TAMCC guard John Jordan penetrated at will, getting past the Hoya guards and into the lane, opening up shots, drop-offs, and kick-outs. The Islanders shot above 50 percent from the field inside the arc keeping a slight lead over the Hoyas for much of the first half. Georgetown struggled to rotate defensively, leaving gaps in the lane and around the hoop.

On offense, the Hoyas turned the ball over too often and failed to get enough penetration against the Islander defense. Still, the Hoyas kept it close, never falling more than two possessions down. Smith, Mikael Hopkins, and Aaron Bowen all were active around the basket, using their superior size to dominate the offensive glass. Those three seniors and their classmate Jabril Trawick combined for 15 of the Hoyas' 18 offensive rebounds, assaulting the glass with height and brawn. Despite a poor first half, the Hoyas converted enough second chances to head into the break tied.

After the half, Georgetown ran away from the visitors. The Hoyas walled off the paint on defense, keeping Jordan and the other Islander guards out of the lane and jumping passing lanes to force turnovers. Bowen in particular played perhaps his best game as a Hoya, matching a career-high 13 points and snagging a career-best 5 steals. Bowen's wild athleticism isn't always pretty, but tonight his length and speed were too much for the Islanders. One open-court steal led to a punctuating slam that extended Georgetown's second-half lead to 20.

Even including Bowen's star turn, the night belonged to Smith. The behemoth post has been deservedly maligned for everything from his defense to his rebounding to his fitness to his schoolwork. On Tuesday, Smith was his best self, dominating his smaller opponents, muscling his way to one hard-fought rebound after another, and rotating quickly enough on defense to help wall off the lane, even drawing a charge at one point. After a return to the court Saturday that JT3 called "unacceptable," Smith got after it Tuesday, matching the Islanders' energy inside. The big man also owned the block offensively, generally keeping the ball high and finishing through pesky defenders.

The contributions of Bowen, Smith, and Hopkins compensated what was an otherwise ho-hum night for the Hoyas. On offense, the Hoyas still weren't exactly clicking, failing to move the ball to get open shots when Smith's post-ups weren't succeeding.  D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera continued to struggle to adjust to the lead guard role, managing just 7 points and nary an assist. Trawick picked up some of the playmaking slack, getting into the lane and finding other Hoyas to the tune of 4 assists to go with 7 points and 5 rebounds. Even so, the Hoyas' offense was frequently stagnant, and their outside shooting (6 of 22 through two games) again was too errant to space the floor.

Georgetown also is still porous on defense. Jordan got into the lane too easily, opening up easy looks for his teammates. Those looks became even easier thanks to poor rotation on the Hoya back line, exposing seams open around the basket that led to wide-open baskets.

Still, those adjustments are to be expected, given that nearly half of Tuesday's minutes were logged by Hoyas who weren't in uniform in the latter half of last season. And in the broad picture, Georgetown looks good. Smith and LJ Peak (10 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists Tuesday) both look like real offensive threats, DSR will come around, Bowen and Hopkins have made good use of their size and energy while for the most part staying in their lanes, and the other freshmen are providing solid contributions. A deep, talented rotation is in place. Georgetown still has nearly six weeks to smooth over lineups, tighten up the defense, and get acclimated offensively.

The Hoyas have one more home tune-up against Robert Morris Saturday before heading off to face higher-profile competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Until then, Georgetown remains an undefeated juggernaut.