We're ba---oh, no, not again. Wait, yeah, we're back, baby! Georgetown blew the doors off of Seton Hall to start Tuesday's game, frittered it all away, then steamrolled the Pirates again after the half en route to a convincing 86-67 victory in New Jersey. Isaac Copeland scored a career-high 20 points and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera poured in a game-high 23 points to power Georgetown's best offensive performance in more than two weeks.
Georgetown came out throwing rocks after a pair of listless losses to Providence and Villanova. The Hoyas scored on four of their first six possessions, moving the ball to the open shooters, especially on the perimeter. Just three days after making a bare 1 of 17 three-point attempts, the Hoyas buried three triples in as many minutes. Resurgent outside shooting can be traced in part to JT3's decision to start Copeland in place of season-long starter Mikael Hopkins. That decision paid immediate dividends, as the freshman hit a pair of early treys and a midrange jumper. Jabril Trawick also continued a recent reemergence, hitting an early 3 to jump-start a solid line of 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
Seton Hall's offense was as inept as Georgetown's attack was potent, as the Pirates turned the ball over on their first three possessions and managed just 4 points in the game's first 6 minutes. By the second television timeout, Georgetown's lead had ballooned to 20, and the rout appeared to be on.
These Hoyas haven't made things that simple, though, and Tuesday was no exception. Seton Hall began attacking the basket off the dribble and by feeding freshman big man Angel Delgado, who pounded the offensive glass while also drawing one foul after another on Georgetown's big men. Just a few minutes after the Hoyas' high-water mark, storm clouds were forming. Hopkins and Joshua Smith had tallied a combined 5 fouls and Georgetown's lead withered to single digits.
And thus began the latest chapter of the Bradley Hayes saga, which only accelerated the downfall. Delgado's energy continued to give the Hoyas fits inside while the Pirates also heated up from the outside, hitting a trio of three-pointers to close the gap to just five points at the half. Georgetown's struggles before intermission can't be wholly chalked up to Hayes, but playing the junior big man is the sort of marginally negative decision that the Hoyas simply cannot afford. Hayes failed to draw rim on two shots within two feet, badly missed Delgado on defensive assignments, and got overpowered by his smaller opponent on the boards. Those transgressions, seemingly minor on their own, took on greater importance as the lead vanished. When Seton Hall hit two more triples to tie the game after the half, Georgetown looked like it was headed for another painful loss.
But just as Georgetown's early outburst set it up for regression, Seton Hall was bound to cool off, and soon did so. The Pirates came up empty on 7 straight possessions, giving away the ball three times, missing shot after shot in the lane, and bricking a pair of free throws. Meanwhile, the Hoyas heated back up. Smith-Rivera hit a corner three and then Copeland got busy, hitting a baseline jumper and a pair of interior baskets to power a nine-point run, which Ike followed with a triple and an inside and-one that put Georgetown up by double digits for good.
During much of this run, Georgetown kept afloat without any of its three bigs in the game. With Smith and Hopkins on the pine thanks to foul trouble, JT3 finally went small, playing Copeland and Paul White as the biggest Hoyas on the court. Small sample size or no, Georgetown avoided the first-half Hayes disaster with this small-ish lineup, riding out more than four minutes while building the Hoya lead by three additional points. The lead grew in part because Seton Hall suddenly couldn't hit a free throw, but the Hoyas managed a healthy 7 points on 6 possessions to more than outpace the Pirates. When JT3 was able to bring one of his senior bigs back into the game, Georgetown put the game away.
Georgetown's offense scored 86 points on 70 possessions, hitting 8 triples and shooting 56 percent inside the three-point arc. Exploiting a porous Seton Hall perimeter defense, Smith-Rivera found open three-pointers, available mid-range jumpers, and fouls that led to easy points at the charity stripe. Copeland scored in a similarly diverse fashion, hitting from beyond the arc and crashing the offensive glass for easy put-backs. In addition to the headlining offensive outputs, Georgetown's defense also was responsible for goosing the attack. Seton Hall committed 15 turnovers that led to 27 Hoya points, and hoisted a number of additional long-range jumpers that abetted Georgetown run-outs.
A bit of praise is in store for JT3's lineup changes. Much digital ink has rightly been spilled on the various coaching misdeeds this season. A cynic could dismiss tonight's two big adjustments--starting Copeland and going to the small lineup in the second half--as desperate measures adopted only in desperate times. But it's easy for us to disseminate criticism in 140 characters or less, and much harder to demote two upperclassmen and sacrifice size to plunge into the unknown. Thompson made the necessary adjustments, and deserves credit, rather than, "I told you so."
Likewise deserving of a thumbs-up are the players who exited and entered the starting lineup. Copeland looks like a real star in the making, notching his seventh double-figure game and unveiling all of his diverse skill-set. He was given an opportunity tonight, and took advantage of it. And Hopkins remained a gamer, grabbing 7 rebounds and doling out 3 assists from the high post in limited action. His continued foul trouble wasn't pretty, but his effort didn't slacken despite the benching.
After losing three out of four, Georgetown needed a win at Seton Hall, and eventually got it in convincing fashion. The Hoyas have earned a week-long layoff before hosting St. John's next Tuesday evening and DePaul the following weekend. Georgetown will need both home games to keep on the top half of the conference standings. After beating the Pirates, a home-aided winning streak looks a lot more plausible.