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Cock-blocked: Hoyas Lose to South Carolina 80-67

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NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

GAME RECAP:

The 3-3 Georgetown Hoyas traveled south today to take on the 5-2 Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks were coming off a 24 point defeat against Coastal Carolina but welcomed the return of leading scorer Jermaine Cousinard (13.5 ppg) who was not available for the drubbing. For the Hoyas, it was a homecoming for Kaiden Rice and Malcolm Wilson, both of whom are from the Columbia area and played their high school ball at Ridge View in South Carolina. Wilson was rewarded with a start in place of Timothy Ighoefe, who will be sidelined 4-6 weeks following a hand injury sustained against Longwood.

Shooting woes hampered the Hoyas to start as they missed their first 9 shots (6 of which were 3 point attempts) and South Carolina jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The run was stopped by an emphatic Aminu Mohammed two handed tomahawk jam for the hoop and the harm but he missed the ensuing free throw. The shooting did not improve as Georgetown missed 20 of their first 23 shots but South Carolina initially couldn’t make them pay. The Gamecocks opened the game only 6-22 from the field despite numerous good looks.

Eventually, South Carolina got going and two Keyshawn Bryant jams extended the Gamecocks lead to 21-9 before Patrick Ewing had to use his second timeout of the first 12 minutes.

But the Hoyas got back into it mostly due to Aminu Mohammed’s spirited and aggressive play. A Mohammed back door layup cut the lead to 4 and then, an aggressive defensive play lead to a Malcolm Wilson runout dunk assisted by Dante Harris to make it 25-23 South Carolina with just under 4 minutes remaining in the first. But the Gamecocks recovered and went into the locker room with a 36-27 lead.

Georgetown finished the half 9-41 from the field – a 22% clip – that certainly left more to be desired. Additionally, they turned it over 10 times. 27 points was the third worst scoring performance in a half so far in this young season (21 points in Dartmouth 1H, 24 points in SDSU 2H). The 3-point defense was greatly improved as South Carolina was only 1-9 but one could argue they still got way too many easy looks.

The second half was much more up tempo with both teams finding a scoring touch to start the half. However, it was a back and forth affair and the Hoyas struggled to chip into the Gamecocks lead. A Dante Harris And-1 cut it to 6 at the 12:30 mark and the Hoyas looked to have life but just a minute later, Harris went down after a missed jumper holding his right leg. The sophomore point guard looked to be in serious pain.

Harris would eventually return but 6 was the closest the Hoyas would ever get. The defense allowed consistent penetration and the Gamecocks broke away, increasing their lead to 15 at one point. The Hoyas showed some life once they went to the press which begs the question why not press earlier? The team is obviously better when they create transition opportunities.

Ultimately, the final score ended South Carolina 80 – Georgetown 67, which was probably a fair representation of how the Hoyas played.

Aminu Mohammed was a bright spot for the Hoyas. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds and has the makings of a productive player. Donald Carey found his shooting stroke in the second half on his way to 20 points and Dante Harris contributed with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists but it wasn’t a great performance for the point guard, highlighted by 3 turnovers and some bad mistakes in the open court. Kaiden Rice especially struggled to find the shooting strike, playing in front of his hometown fans. The senior shooter missed all 10 shots he took and the team was outscored by 19 in his 21 minutes on the floor.

The offense was disjointed from start to finish. There is no semblance of a real offense and too often Harris and Mohammed are asked to break down the defense on their own. If Rice and/or Carey doesn’t provide consistent shooting, and if the team doesn’t get out in transition, they really struggle to get good looks.

The defensive numbers may look slightly improved today, as USC didn’t shoot well from beyond the arc, but it was equally messy. Penetration was achieved far too easily and the Gamecocks took advantage in the paint. And when the Hoyas did get stops, they struggled to hold the Gamecocks to one shot, allowing 16 offensive rebounds. Quite honestly, center Timothy Ighoefe’s absence was felt. This team cannot win if they continue to give up 80 points on most nights.

The Hoyas fell to 3-4 on the day and will resume their schedule Wednesday vs. UMBC at 8:30 pm.