Game 5: No. 22 Texas Longhorns (4-0) vs Georgetown Hoyas (3-1)
When: Thursday 7 pm
Where: Madison Square Garden
Series: tied 1-1
Last Meeting: Dec 4, 2012 – Hoyas won 64-41 in the Jimmy V Classic
TV: ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi & Dan Dakich)
Radio: The Team 980 (Rich Chvotkin)
KenPom Rankings: Texas 27, Georgetown 69
KenPom Prediction: Texas 74, Georgetown 69 (68 percent)
Line: Texas -5.5, o/u 142
EWING PREACHES PATIENCE AHEAD OF 2K EMPIRE CLASSIC
Just ahead of Georgetown’s trip to Madison Square Garden for the 2K Empire Classic, coach Patrick Ewing gave a glimpse into just how sees the status of the rebuilding job at his alma mater.
When asked about the difference in going into Year 3 with more expectations the Hall of Famer started out talking like the man that ended his career as one of the best of all time by not conceding an inch.
“Well my expectations and my drive have always been the same,” Ewing said about the Georgetown team he has led to 15-15 and 19-14 records in his first two seasons in charge.
But then Ewing shared a longer view of how see things with some caution thrown in.
“Even though our fan base needed to have patience and still do need to have patience. We’re still growing and we’re still working and we have a lot more depth and lot more talent this year than we have in my previous two years but still we have a long way to go. Even though having depth and talent doesn’t always equate to wins.”
Nothing he said is wrong, it’s just not often you get a philosophical look into the state of the Hoyas program.
Thursday’s match-up with No. 22 Texas could prove to be one of the most important games of the season for Georgetown.
A win over a ranked Power Five team would be Ewing’s first and it would all by lock in a date with No. 1 Duke on Friday night although the Blue Devils do have the business of defeating Cal to take care of first.
A loss to the Shaka Smart’s Longhorns would leave the Hoyas at 3-2 after just five games and have them most likely seeing a Bears team in the consolation game that ultimately won’t provide a whole lot of help in the resume building department come March.
In anticipation of the biggest early season event in his three seasons at Georgetown, Ewing is ready to go.
“I think it’s great” Ewing said about having his program back in a big-time event against possibly two ranked squads.
“It’s only going to help us to be a much better team once the Big East schedule starts. Every great team that you play helps sharpen the blade.”
After winning three of four at home to start the season the Hoyas are predictably led by N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven and sophomore guards James Akinjo and Mac McClung.
In what might not have seemed possible heading into the season, Yurtseven is probably exceeding expectations with four straight double-doubles to start his Hoyas career. Akinjo and McClung have had ups and downs early on but are still capable of putting up a game winning performance any time they step on the court.
Ewing thinks all three players should rank among the best in the country.
“They definitely put in a lot of work but I’m waiting to see the hard work they that put in throughout the summer translate into better play,” Ewing said about Akinjo and McClung.
“James had a huge game in the second half to get us out of that big hole [against Mount St. Mary’s] that we were in. He struggled last game, wasn’t very consistent. Mac has been struggling as well. Had a big game last game. We expect more for those two guys, to be one of the best back courts in not only in the BIG EAST but in the country and I’m expecting Omer to be one the best bigs in the country.”
So, while Ewing is asking for patience, a win over a ranked Big XII team would go a long way towards his program moving forward in Year 3.
“It’s going to be a good test for us, a good test for both teams and hopefully at the end of the night we’ll come out on top.”
The 15th ranked Hoyas had no problems in dispatching Texas at MSG in 2012. JT3 rolled out a starting five of Markel Starks, Greg Whittington, Otto Porter, Nate Lubick, and Mikael Hopkins. Georgetown led 30-17 at the break and it never got closer. Porter led the way with 14 points while Lubick had 13 on 6 for 7 shooting and Starks added 11. DSR had seven off the bench while Stephen Domingo made one of his three career 3-pointers (in 27 attempts) for Georgetown in his two seasons.
Like the Hoyas, the Longhorns are led by two guards in Matt Coleman and Andrew Jones. The duo combines to average 28 points per game as Texas has started the season undefeated through four games including a big win at Purdue.
“As they go, Texas is going to go,” Ewing said about Coleman and Jones.
Coleman also leads Texas in assists with 4.3 per game and has hit 7 of 12 3-pointers.
Jones is a true inspirational story as he has had to overcome battling leukemia the past two seasons just to get back on the court. Now that he’s back he’s having a great start to the season with Texas being back in the rankings for the first time in a year.
The Longhorns are holding opponents to just 55 points per game on 36 percent shooting while forcing 67 turnovers.
After shortening his bench in the second half of the Hoyas comeback win over Georgia State, Ewing – who played 11 players all double-digit minutes in the first three games – acknowledged that his rotation needs to shrink from game to game.
“Well I think it’s still a work in progress,” Ewing said about his rotation.
“It all depends on how good we’re playing. Who’s playing well who’s not playing well. That’s the great thing about having depth. I’m still not sure. I’m planning on shortening the rotation. I’m not sure who’s going to be in and who’s going to be out. I’m just going to take it game by game and day by day.”
PREDICTION: Hoyas 82, No. 22 Texas 79