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Shrug: Georgetown Beats Maine, 76-55, to Stay Undefeated

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When Do the Real Games Start?

NCAA Basketball: Maine at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Hoyas are an undefeated powerhouse, I guess. Georgetown turned in a sluggish and sloppy performance Tuesday night but still managed to soundly beat visiting Maine, one of the worst teams in Division I, 76-55. Five Hoyas scored in double figures to fuel their fifth straight win, a record built on a pillowy soft opening schedule.

Georgetown came out firing Tuesday night, building an early 13-2 lead on the strength of a quick pace. The Hoyas took each of its first six shots in the front half of the shot clock, running out on Maine misses. Jonathan Mulmore (10 points, 5 assists) remained a particular offensive spark plug, opening up driving lanes for himself and open shots for his teammates.

After that initial surge, the game was effectively over. After responding to a couple of Bear buckets, Georgetown’s lead never shrunk to single digits again. Georgetown’s balanced scoring attack and defensive length were too much for Maine to mount a meaningful comeback.

But the lack of tension didn’t mean Georgetown dominated. Quite the opposite. The Hoyas continued to struggle to contain opposing ball-handlers, allowing Maine guards, particularly Aaron Calixte, to get into the lane time and again. When they could find daylight against the bigger Hoyas, the Bears fared reasonably well going toward the basket, connecting on 18 of 37 shots inside the arc. Despite a size disadvantage, Maine also found plenty of second chances, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds.

Whether trying to corral an opposing guard or a loose rebound, Georgetown was a mess, looking disjointed and a step slow as the energetic Bears found gaps the Hoyas left behind. Particularly early in the second half, when Maine narrowed the Georgetown lead to just 10, Maine’s liveliness was noticeable, particularly on offense, where the Bears were being cheered on by their bench on the same half of the court. Fortunately, Maine’s frigid outside shooting (4 of 23 from 3) and loose ball-handling (18 turnovers) meant that Georgetown’s defensive shortcomings translated to limited actual damage.

On offense, the Hoyas looked a little better, but not much. Three-quarter-court pressure from Maine slowed Georgetown’s attempts to generate early offense, and the Bears’ aggressive attempts to deny entry to Jessie Govan in the post cut off the Hoyas’ leading scorer. When Mulmore wasn’t outrunning the other nine guys on the court, Georgetown seemed to be making it up as it went along. An unscripted step-back three here, a Govan steal and dunk there...the offensive wasn’t collectively terrible but it also didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Still, there were bright spots here and there to point out. Mulmore’s speed on both ends has been a game-changer in the early season; he’ll need to prove that advantage works against better competition, but it’s been a pleasure to see the senior guard so comfortable and aggressive so far. Govan’s effort still comes and goes, and he still finishes softly too often, but his 16 points and 8 rebounds Tuesday continued a solid start to the season. Kaleb Johnson, who scored a game-high 18 points, has finished many of the opportunities Mulmore creates. Marcus Derrickson (12 points, 4 rebounds) played a solid inside game while Jahvon Blair (11 points) brought some gunning off the pine.

All in all, it’s hard to get too invested in the marginal differences in a win over an vastly inferior team. Of course, I would have preferred that Georgetown continue its sizzling start and beat Maine by 40. But with the outcome in hand so early, the Hoyas’ effort, perhaps understandably, waned early as well.

After the game, Ewing rightly expressed disappointment with Georgetown’s defensive focus and execution. Fortunately, the Hoyas have four more cupcakes lined up in succession, and, after a showdown with Syracuse, two more flakes after that. There’s plenty of time to instill and refine habits, rotations, help defense, and all of the little things that go into winning basketball. Whether Georgetown will use the available time to make those incremental improvements remains to be seen.