Fire up the Delusion Train! Your Georgetown Hoyas shined their brightest so far in the young season on Thursday night, under the lights of Madison Square Garden, where Georgetown manhandled Texas in the second half en route to a 82-66 victory.
Trailing by five at the half, the Hoyas took over after the break, pouring in 45 second-half points while yielding just 24. After a lackluster opening homestand, tonight’s win is a major boost, not only for the morale of us online psychos but also for the Hoyas’ resume, as it sets Georgetown up for a likely Friday night date with #1 Duke in the final of the 2k Empire Classic.
Like a much better version of Sunday’s win over Georgia State, tonight’s upset of the Longhorns was a balanced effort: six Hoyas scored at least nine points, with sophomore guard Mac McClung leading the way with 19 points. Classmate James Akinjo shook off a frustrating night from the field (2-10 FG) to provide steady ball-handling and ice-in-his-veins free-throwing (10-10 FT) to keep Texas at bay down the stretch. Omer Yurtseven sat for much of the game with foul trouble but dominated the post (5-6 FG for 10 points) when he did play. And Jamorko Pickett had his best game of a steady junior season, pouring in 15 points from 3, in the midrange, and at the rim, while playing solid defense. During one critical stretch of the second half, the Hoyas scored on 11 of 12 possessions, taking firm control of a game they’d trailed just minutes before.
That turnaround was made possible on both ends of the floor. While Georgetown was on its offensive tear in the second half, Texas went dry, scoring on just 2 of 10 possessions en route to a 38 percent shooting night (a ghastly 22 percent after the break). Some of that was attributable to Texas going cold, as no one outside Longhorn star Matt Coleman (22 points, 6-6 from 3) could buy a bucket.
But Georgetown deserves credit, too: a Hoya squad that has mostly looked disoriented and unmotivated on the defensive end so far this season instead was nearly on a string against Texas. Pickett, Jagan Mosely, and Terrell Allen locked down the perimeter, flying out to contest Longhorn shooters while staying on the hip of driving guards. Even on a night when his shot wasn’t falling (just 4 points), Mosely continued to make winning plays elsewhere, playing rock-solid defense, grabbing 7 rebounds, and, along with Allen, keeping the ball moving in a way that often inured to another Hoya’s benefit.
While those veteran wings patrolled the arc, freshman Qudus Wahab, seeing extended run while Yurtseven sat, played some Big Man U-sized defense at the rim. Big Q (?) blocked a pair of shots while employing some Roy Hibbert Memorial verticality to alter others. On offense, the Young Big Fella rammed home 9 points, all inside, while grabbing 3 offensive rebounds, as Georgetown grabbed more second chances than Texas (12-11) despite having far fewer misses to grab.
With Georgetown firing on all cylinders on both ends, the second half went from nail-biter to an ass-kicking. The Hoyas were able to stave off any comeback in part because they once again were shooting free-throws for much of the second half, making 21 of their 28 attempts while the Longhorns got to the stripe just 10 times. Those free throws were made possible by solid guard play, which rendered a late Texas press largely ineffectual.
Speaking of presses, even though one team had a different coach, and one coach had a different team, there was some catharsis in kicking the crap out of Shaka Smart’s team, even though it’s now been many years since a Smart-coached VCU squad embarrassed the Hoyas in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. A long time ago, sure, and different stakes. But tonight Georgetown, in Madison Square Garden, with a raucous crowd egged on by Patrick Ewing, was doling out the ass-kicking.