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Hoyas hold off Aggies, 83-74

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Govan has his 6th double-double, Pickett & Johnson also hit double figures

NCAA Basketball: No.Carolina A&T at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Hoyas remain an undefeated powerhouse. Winter arrived in DC today, but Patrick Ewing’s team managed to avoid a few slick spots, improving to 8-0 on the season with a 83-74 win over North Carolina A&T.

Coming into this game, the Aggies possessed a couple of things that most of Georgetown’s early season opponents did not- a winning record and the confidence that comes with it. What they were missing was the size and length to generate enough high-percentage shot attempts against the Hoyas’ long, lean lineup.

Georgetown controlled both the tip and the scoreboard early in the game. The Hoyas cruised to a 14-0 lead as NC A&T missed (at least) their first nine shot attempts. Jessie Govan put in a hooker over the top, Jamorko Pickett easily rolled around their defenders for a soaring layup, and Jonathan Mulmore & Kaleb Johnson both drew fouls while driving to the basket. At the other end, Georgetown’s defense showed both agility and the intensity that Coach Ewing had said was lacking in recent matchups. Marcus Derrickson’s cold shooting touch did not recede until the second half, but he tallied two quick blocks and wrapped up more than a half dozen rebounds. The bench got minutes early, with Chris Sodom, Antwan Walker and Trey Dickerson all seeing the floor before the under-8 media timeout.

Beyond the initial scoring blackout, the game followed a cupcake recipe that has become familiar over the past four weeks. Play became sloppier, scoring dried up, the lead diminished. With Govan on the bench and the option to go inside removed, the Hoyas settled for lower percentage jumpers. Additionally, they allowed the Aggies to dictate a slower pace. The perimeter passing and looser dribbling in this half-court offensive look was partially responsible for the (unacceptable) number of turnovers committed by Georgetown. The Hoyas’ lack of focus and inability to stick to the new score-in-transition style allowed NC A&T to capitalize.

Georgetown went into the locker room with an 11 point lead, and the margin hovered in the high single digits into the early second half. Several things changed after the break. First, the Aggies’ shooting started to heat up. Femi Olujobi proved why he was the focus of the pregame scouting report and Milik Gantz came out of nowhere to finish the day with 21 points. Second, the Hoyas had their first taste of what the front-court rotation will need to look like against tougher opponents. Less than two minutes into the second half, Sodom and Govan each had two fouls, while Derrickson picked up his third. Antwan Walker was able to step up and play 10 minutes, but the team should expect to be making more lineup adjustments during Big East competition.

Finally, most critically, Georgetown recommitted to enforcing their new style of play. Derrickson forgot about the early misses and, off a nice pass from Pickett, buried a jumper. Mulmore drove to the basket and Govan cleaned up the miss. Dickerson grabbed a couple of steals, found both Govan and Jahvon Blair to create open looks, assisted Mosely for a driving layup, and hit a three of his own off a feed from Walker. Johnson traded in a perimeter shot for the clean pass to Govan inside. Blair pulled up in transition and hit a smooth jumper from just inside the stripe. With about 4 minutes remaining, Pickett hit a long three that arguably squashed whatever comeback hopes the Aggies might have had. Georgetown had assists on 23 of their baskets today and committed 50% fewer turnovers in the second half than they did in the first. This paragraph is a microcosm of what the Hoyas need to do if they want to win games in the Big East- execute the gameplan and trust that all of your teammates will do their part.

Admittedly, the last 90 seconds were played in a fog, as though the contest was already over. It ended with a 9-point win today, but in a matchup without a double-digit headstart, that premature disengagement would be deadly.

The Hoyas have reached the end of the dessert table, and all that remains is the same slightly desiccated pieces of fruit that will keep being served until the end of eternity. That’s right, the Orange are up next.

BEAT CUSE.