On a sleepy day at Verizon Center, Georgetown pulled away from Bryant in the second half for its first win at home in a resounding 77-47 victory. Peak led the way with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals, while Copeland and Derrickson chipped in with 13 points / 8 rebounds and 12 points / 12 rebounds, respectively.
For the first 18 minutes, Georgetown seemed to forget it was the better team on the floor. Sloppy rotations led to wide open looks for the Bulldogs, which they failed to knock down. LJ Peak came out firing, hitting 5 of 7 shots in the first half to tally 13 of the Hoyas' 40 points. Without Peak and a few missed Bryant opportunities, this came could have looked a lot more like Radford. LJ was aggressive in getting to the rim, converting consecutive and-1 opportunities at the basket, and was the only source of life in Georgetown's offense for a majority of the first half.
With 8 minutes left in the half, Georgetown clung on to a 2-point lead - one that it hardly deserved, given the amount of wide open threes and point blank layups Bryant miraculously missed. But Peak scored 4 consecutive points, DSR hit a three, and Copeland scored the first half's final five points to cap a 17-5 Hoya run.
LJ received a bulk of the ball-handling duties in an attempt to keep DSR off-ball, where he performs considerably better. But even then, DSR was not an efficient offensive player. In his previous offensive droughts, DSR has managed to impact the game in other ways. In fact, it was during a shooting slump sophomore year that DSR became a plus rebounder and a good defender. But DSR forced a couple of bad shots in the first half that seemed to inhibit good offensive flow.
Georgetown came out with crisp offensive sets to start the second half. The Hoyas didn't convert on a few of their early possessions but got good looks on the offensive end of the court. Honestly, it reminded me of basketball drills my middle school basketball coach used to make us do to practice ball movement - I want to see an entire offensive possession without any dribbling. And the Hoyas delivered, with purposeful passes and beautiful ball movement to find open shooters and backdoor cuts.
More importantly, however, Georgetown's defense stepped up, relying on its strengths of length and quickness to force turnovers that led to easy buckets on the other end. Copeland alone had 6 steals, and DSR and Peak each had 2. Better yet, the Hoyas seemed to address their rotational issues in man-to-man defense and closed out on the shooters. Bryant managed only 21 points in the second half.
After the game, Peak credited DSR with getting this team to turn it around in the second half - not with any sort of shooting burst, but by telling the team to pick it up defensively. I've been fairly critical of DSR over the past couple of games for fairly obvious reasons. He shot poorly again today, finishing 3 of 12 overall and only 1 of 9 from beyond the arc. But he's the undisputed leader of the team, and even when he didn't make his mark on the court, he found a way to impact the game.
Tre Campbell sat out again today with an illness, but Paul White returned to action today but logged only a few minutes in each half. In his very first play back, the Apostle Natural grabbed a big rebound on a free throw and took the ball up himself to initiate the offense. He seemed very anxious and excited to get back out on the court and was itching to knock down a shot. He didn't get one to fall, but he looked good in the process - moving on offense, making the right pass, and just generally getting back into the flow of the game.
Overall, we needed this. The first 15 minutes of the game had me worried - why do we always play to our competition? But stepping up the defensive pressure resulted in a couple of favorable runs to put the game out of reach. Yes, a win is a win. But a big win is even better.
We have some work to do this week - another tune-up game (hopefully) against University of Maryland Eastern Shore before the big showdown against Syracuse. I saw 'Cuse play against Texas A&M and UConn the past couple of days, and they look pretty good. I'm glad, because it'll only heighten the intensity of the game. But what worries me is how they beat teams - lots of ball movement to create open looks from beyond the arc. Georgetown needs to know where the shooters are on the floor at all times.
Until then, Hoya Saxa.