In a half-season full of twists and turns, Georgetown faced yet another new wrinkle Wednesday night. Barely a week removed from a six-game winning streak that revived their hopes, the Hoyas suddenly found themselves on a two-game slide to open Big East play. Newly on the down-turn, and with a weekend trip to Villanova looming, Georgetown was staring down a must-win game as St. John’s visited.
Fortunately, the Hoyas dispelled any doubt early against the Red Storm, building a 29-point first-half lead and coasting through the second half to an easy 87-66 win. Mac McClung led all scorers with 24 points, headlining a Georgetown starting lineup that all reached double figures. Georgetown’s senior guards Terrell Allen (16 points, 4 assists, 5 steals) and Jagan Mosely (12 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) both continued rock-solid play, particularly moving the ball to goose a Georgetown offense that assisted on 21 of 26 made baskets. Jamorko Pickett (18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Omer Yurtseven (10 points, 11 rebounds) both registered double-doubles, with the lanky junior forward enjoying a season high in points and strong play on both ends. And the Hoya defense that had been dissected by slashing guards over the previous week enjoyed a reprieve against the conference’s worst offense, holding St. John’s to just 35 percent shooting and a frigid 6 of 25 from deep.
The game began with more activity than efficiency, as two of the faster teams (in the nation, yes, yes, not just in the Big East) chucked and ran early, but largely drew iron. After some early scuffling, the Hoyas found offense through a familiar combination of easy buckets in transition and paint points, especially on second chances. Soon, Georgetown held a double-digit lead.
Far from relinquishing the advantage, the Hoyas built on it: Georgetown rattled off 13 straight points late in the first half to make the lead 45-16. Offensively, Georgetown moved the ball fluidly, if not exactly crisply, making up for some sloppy ball-handling (15 turnovers) by finding the open man. During a scorching first half, those open shooters connected on 8 of 14 three-pointers. Each successive bucket delighted the solid student section, taking in their first action after winter break. Each basket also left the visitors farther in the rear view, particularly as the Red Storm slogged through a miserable half from deep (2-14 3FG).
With the game out of hand so early, the second half naturally included some lulls. St. John’s fought gamely, using a spark of defensive energy to fuel a couple of runs. But the Red Storm are in rebuilding mode in coach Mike Anderson’s first year, and for long stretches their only viable offensive option appeared to be wing LJ Figueroa (23 points). With limited opposing firepower, and by continuing to attack the basket, Georgetown withstood a relatively frigid second half, keeping the lead in double digits en route to an easy victory.
It’s hard to say what, if anything, tonight will portend. The Hoyas will immediately face stiffened road competition again this weekend, and their porous defense will be strained against Villanova’s offense, ranked just outside the top 10 nationally, But tonight anyway, Georgetown got the win they needed at home, and with ease.