Your Georgetown Hoyas started off 2018 on a positive note, beating the DePaul Blue Demons by a score of 90-81 and getting Coach Patrick Ewing his first Big East win. Despite last losing at DePaul in the 1993-94 season, the Hoyas entered the game as 4-point underdogs at Wintrust Arena. Both teams were looking for their first victory in conference play. Georgetown took care of business today by cutting down on unforced turnovers, executing the game plan to which their lineup is best suited, and ensuring that the Blue Demons’ leading scorer was the target of vigilant defense.
Beyond the nicely controlled layup from Kaleb Johnson off a smooth pass from Jessie Govan, the first 2:33 of the game featured all of the things that haunt Georgetown fans’ dreams: mishandling of the ball that allowed two early turnovers, a pair of largely uncontested dunks by our opponent on consecutive possessions, and poor awareness that led to a shot clock violation. Coach Ewing called a timeout. His reset worked and after a quick 7-0 run, the Hoyas would never trail again.
The transition offense was working because the ball was ending up in the right hands. Govan hit a long jumper, Jamorko Pickett knocked down a three, and—pushing the pace—Jonathan Mulmore found a trailing Marcus Derrickson who finished the layup easily. A steal by Jagan Mosely was shuttled to Trey Dickerson and then to Johnson, who threw down the dunk. During this stretch the Hoyas handled the ball well, with more than eight minutes of game time elapsing between turnovers.
Defensive execution and focus was equally important. Johnson was tasked with the unenviable assignment of dealing with Max Strus, a transfer guard who was averaging 26.5ppg in early Big East play. Througout the game, Kaleb played smart defense and prevented Strus from finding easy or open shots. Govan similarly handled Maric and Butz inside. In a freshman-on-freshman matchup, Jahvon Blair devoted solidly half of his 20 minutes on the court to making Justin Roberts’ life difficult.
After DePaul managed a 9-0 run, Georgetown made a greater effort to break down the Blue Demons’ zone late in the first half, exploiting the frequent double-teams on Derrickson to find the open shooters and clear lanes. The junior forward had the hot shooting touch, but that did not translate into an absolute green light from Coach Ewing, nor did it excuse other lapses in judgment. Returning from two separate media breaks in the first half, Derrickson could be seen receiving a stern lecture from his coach regarding shot selection or failure to properly protect the ball. At one point, Ewing posed this question:
One assumes that Derrickson answered in the affirmative, as his truly impressive all-around performance ultimately included 24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and a perfect 10-10 from the stripe.
In addition to stellar individual efforts, Hoyas also had each other’s backs. When Mosely turned it over, Pickett’s defense forced Justin Roberts to travel and Georgetown regained possession. Mulmore and Derrickson rebounded strongly, as did Trey Dickerson. The grad transfer outjumped a pair of DePaul forwards to keep one play alive, then shot a pass out to Blair who hit the three. Georgetown had a 9-point advantage going into the break, while DePaul was working around some early foul trouble.
The Hoyas were up 54-44 as of the U16 media timeout in the second half, but double digit leads mean nothing unless the team can maintain them. It is no coincidence that the Blue Demons cut the margin to a single point, including a personal 7-0 run by Strus, while the backcourt tandem of Johnson and Mulmore were on the bench. When that duo, along with Jamorko Pickett, returned to the game at the 10 minute mark, momentum shifted in Georgetown’s direction for good.
Derrickson forced a steal that led to a fast break. Pickett, whose defense had been helpful but his ball-handling shaky, shook off his cold shooting streak and nailed a corner three. Antwan Walker was a productive presence on the court in limited minutes, snagging a pair of rebounds and using smart, smothering defense to help force a turnover. Johnson’s defense caused Strus to put up an airball. Derrickson split a double team and passed it to Mulmore who found Govan wide open for three. That basket earned Jessie his 10th double-double of the season, second only to Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado. Georgetown was up 68-60 when Dave Leitao’s petitioning of Pat Driscoll finally earned him a technical foul.
If you needed visual confirmation that things were rolling in the Hoyas’ favor, Mulmore redirecting a steal to Johnson on the fast break who finished the layup while being fouled and spinning 270 degrees through the air should have answered any remaining questions. DePaul continued to fight, but Georgetown was always able to answer. A Brandon Cyrus three at one end preceded a jump hook from Govan at the other. Maric drove to the basket and wass fouled by Derrickson’s nose; Derrickson was fouled outside the arc with two seconds on the shot clock and made all three from the line. Tre’Darius McCallum beat all of the Hoyas to the rebound and put back his own miss; Mosely drove to the basket, drew the foul and hit his freethrows. The team played a full 40 minutes- no coasting.
Georgetown committed only 14 turnovers this evening. (This fact is worthy of its own paragraph.)
Yes, this was a victory over a perennial bottom-dweller of our conference, but nobody should question the value of road wins in the Big East. The Hoyas
travel to host Creighton next, on Saturday, January 6th. The game that tips off at 12pm ET and will air on FOX.
Stay warm, everybody. Hoya Saxa.