A seemingly Casual second-half romp over Campbell was interrupted Saturday when the Camels mounted a furious comeback sparked by point guard Chris Clemons, who went off for 45 points on the day. Ultimately, the Hoyas withstood the late surge, emerging with a 93-85 victory that was more survival than triumph.
The highlight of the day on the Georgetown end was fifth-year senior Trey Mourning’s 27 points and 12 rebounds, both of which were career highs, leading a high-powered Hoya attack. After a disappointing trip to Jamaica, Trey was active early and often on Saturday, showing out in front of his dad Zo. Two early post-ups yielded nothing, but Trey kept plugging away. He found space off ball around the basket, converting put-backs, finishing dishes, and drawing fouls that led him to the free-throw line, where he made 10 of 13 attempts on the day. After the break, Trey continued to do work, stepping out for smooth midrange jumpers and continuing to opportunistically finish plays around the basket. Trey’s career day far outpaced his previous bests in points (12) and rebounds (7). For one day anyway, Trey emphatically answered calls to cede his starting spot to freshman spark plug Josh LeBlanc.
Mourning’s big day was part of a broader Hoya effort to get the ball inside early and often. Six of Georgetown’s first 7 possessions ended with a paint touch, as Mourning, Jessie Govan (a quiet 13 points), and Jamorko Pickett (a quieter 5 points) all got early points in the lane to fuel a quick 10-0 start. The exception was a three-pointer from Mac McClung, who shook off 11 straight misses from deep to start his Hoya career to can a pair of triples today.
But Mourning wasn’t alone in enjoying a stellar outing Saturday. Clemons, the nation’s leading scorer, responded to the early Georgetown run with a pair of jumpers, opening salvos in what would be an amazing scoring display. Hoya fans traumatized by Georgetown’s inability to stop opposing waterbug point guards over the years surely were having flashbacks, but Clemons’s performance Saturday was next level. He got buckets wherever he wanted, often over outstretched defenders inside and out.
For the first half, Clemons offered more volume than efficiency (18 points, 14 shots), doing little to impede Georgetown from building a 14-point halftime lead. But then Clemons dialed it up after the break, canning 5 second-half triples, each seemingly more difficult than the last. When Georgetown closed out hard beyond the arc, the Campbell star drove to the tin, using his broad chest to create space to finish over larger opponents.
Clemons’s virtuosic performance injected tension into what looked to be headed toward a blowout. After a Mourning and-one pushed the Hoya lead to 22 with barely 6 minutes to play, the Camels went to work. Three straight Campbell three-pointers, the last by Clemons, fueled a 13-0 Camels run that cut Georgetown’s advantage to single digits with 33 minutes remaining. James Akinjo (17 points, 4 assists) returned from the bench, where he had been exiled with foul trouble, to convert a critical three-point play to stem the tide. Despite a couple of dramatic late triples by Clemons, Georgetown was able to make enough free throws to keep Campbell down the stretch.
In all, Saturday was a mixed bag. There’s only so much an opponent can do, and only so much to extrapolate, when an opponent like Clemons goes wild. There were possessions here and there where the Hoyas simply lost track of Clemons, which is inexcusable against such a dangerous opponent. But the vast majority of his points were just a case of a savvy, skilled veteran guard — who, again, is the nation’s leading scorer — creating and exploiting his own opportunities. If anything, Georgetown’s interior defense, which allowed Campbell to make 17 of 26 shots inside the arc on the day, was more troubling.
In all, the narrow margin of victory wasn’t a disaster. Campbell is a sturdy and experienced, if limited, squad, which has been made the postseason each of the past two seasons. The Camels aren’t a high-major opponent, to be sure, but they’re not UMES, either. Perhaps the margin should have been double, and it could well have been without Clemons’s singular showing.
However, the meh final margin against Campbell, following on the heels of a lackluster trip to Jamaica, suggests a team that’s still trying to figure itself out. Govan, LeBlanc (11 points, 4 rebounds, and a handful of trademark energy plays), and Mourning gave the Hoyas 80 solid big man minutes on Saturday. But the perimeter seems very much in flux. When Akinjo sits, there’s not much playmaking to be had. Pickett seems to be hesitant, perhaps the result of a lack of confidence or overthinking. In any case, he’s been an offensive liability rather than a breakout player, with nearly as many turnovers (10) as made field goals (11) on the season. Jahvon Blair had some nice minutes off the bench Saturday but has made just 2 of his last 11 from deep, a shooting slump that, combined with Pickett’s and McClung’s struggles from 3, has left the Hoyas wanting in outside pop. The answer may be more minutes from Greg Malinowski, who, in addition to a track record as an outside shooter, has shown steady if unflashy play over the past couple of games. Defensively, Georgetown likewise looks like an unfinished product, with sloppy rotations and missed assignments suggesting a less than cohesive unit.
There’s still time, but the competition will stiffen over the coming weeks. The Hoyas play Richmond and Liberty in the week ahead, both in the KenPom 100-150 range that is also occupied by Loyola Marymount. Georgetown will need to answer some of its outstanding questions to avoid similar pitfalls.