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HORNED: Depleted Hoyas Fall Narrowly to TCU, 80-73

Georgetown had a short bench, missed Dante Harris

TCU v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Georgetown Hoyas’ modest three-game win streak ended at home today,80-73, to Jamie Dixon and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The loss is probably not a major surprise to Georgetown fans, who found out before tip-off that star point guard Dante Harris had re-injured his ankle and would not be suiting up. The depleted Hoyas battled admirably without Harris and Jordan Riley but were unable to come away with the victory against a more experienced and physical team.

Both teams showed good energy early on, but the Hoyas struggled to defend the three-point line. Former Hoya recruit Damion Baugh, not known as an outside shooter, hit two early three-pointers. The Hoyas called a timeout after some sloppy offense and lax transition defense and an easy TCU layup left the Hoyas trailing 10-4.

The Hoyas received a boost from Ryan Mutombo and Collin Holloway off the bench, but both teams struggled with sloppy play and shot selection throughout the half. Aminu Mohammed had some difficult early on finishing over an athletic TCU frontline inside but found better luck outside, tying the game at 10. A Holloway three briefly gave the Hoyas its first lead of the game at 13-12 with 11 minutes left in the first half.

The uneven play continued, with TCU guard Mike Miles picking off Tyler Beard’s dribble and throwing an alley-oop to Charles O’Bannon Jr. off the break. Donald Carey, finding himself playing point guard because of Harris’s injury, answeredwith a three of his own and subsequently added a floater. Undeterred, TCU hit back-to-back threes. Another Beard turnover led to a second O’Bannon Jr. alley-oop, extending the TCU’s lead to 30-23. Interior defense was a surprising bright spot, with Ryan Mutombo blocking two shots in the span of a minute.

A Rice three-pointer and aggressive play by Mohammed then keyed an encouraging 9-0 Hoyas run, which was ended by more unexpectedly dead-eye shooting from TCU. Your Hoyas trailed 39-36 after Mohammed blocked a final TCU three at the buzzer. Charles O’Bannon led the Horned Frogs with 15 points at the half and showed the kind of versatile play that had formerly made him a McDonald’s all-American.

Both teams shot poorly to begin the second half, but the Hoyasled 44-41 after two acrobatic Mohammed layups and a thunderous Wilson two-handed slam. Mohammed would later put O’Bannon on ice skates with some fantastic post work. The teams were tied at 44-44 as TCU star Miles started to find his rhythm after Tyler Beard was forced to sit with three fouls.

Mutombo came in off the bench and secured a difficult offensive rebound and follow-up layup, but TCU was beginning to takeover in the paint. Rice hit his second three of the game and the teams were tied once again at 51-51 with eleven minutes left. The teams continued to go back and forth with Eddie Lampkin dominating inside for TCU, and Mutombo and Holloway scoring for the Hoyas. A Rice three inched the Hoyas ahead 58-57 with nine minutes left.

As the teams approached crunch time, TCU found it increasingly easy to score inside while Rice’s shooting kept the Hoyas close. Mohammed attacked the rim for a nice and-1 to draw the Hoyas to 66-64. Unfortunately, Miles took over for TCU late, keying a 14-3 TCU run, during which the Hoyas alsostopped moving the ball on offense. The Hoyas closed the gap to 75-70 in the last few minutes, but a Beard missed three and Carey turnover doomed the Hoyas. A Carey three pointer gave Hoyas fans a last glimmer of hope with sixteen seconds left, but TCU made all of its remaining free throws.

There was much to admire in the Hoyas’ 80-73 loss. The Hoyas only had 11 turnovers, despite the absence of their starting point guard. Carey and Tyler Beard both moved the ball well. Mohammed was impressive after an off-game against Howard. Holloway and Mutombo added valuable scoring off the bench.

Nevertheless, while a loss against the Horned Frogs was hardly unexpected, the Hoyas also showed many of their traditional infirmities. While this is unlikely to ever be a top-flight defensive team, the Hoyas allowed a poor three-point shooting team (27.9% going in) to shoot 42% from behind-the-line tonight. With a short bench, Coach Ewing had to rely on some unusual lineups and seems uncertain about his center rotation in particular. Jalin Billingsley earned surprising minutes down the stretch at center even as the Hoyas struggled to find points. The Hoyas are clearly a better team than they were earlier in the year, but neither Coach Ewing nor the fans seem to know exactly what they have with this team. A return to health from Harris before Georgetown commences Big East play against Providence on Wednesday would certainly help. Until then, Hoya Saxa.