Well, there was no magic left in Hinkle Fieldhouse for the Georgetown shooters. Hedging screens were again high Hoya hurdles. Big Man U’s low-post points could not match the opponents’ three-for-all. For the many Hoyas fans tuning in, it felt more like January than March Madness.
The confidence and sense of urgency of Georgetown’s fantastic 2021 BIG EAST Championship run was simply not there in the 73-96 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
This was a tough way to lose one of the biggest games of the past 5 years. Unfortunately, the Hoya faithful got a glimpse of just about every issue that has plagued different iterations of Coach Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown teams—from lineup adjustments, to senior leaders struggling, to turnovers, to not enough three-pointer attempts, and back to perimeter defense struggles.
Colorado’s shooting was unconscious, and maybe that killed the Hoyas’ game plan from the get-go, but it was pretty clear that the Buffaloes watched at least a handful of recent nationally televised Georgetown games. Frankly, Colorado’s small-ball style and multiple off-ball screens looked borrowed from UConn and Villanova’s playbooks. Defensive ball-denial was similar, too. If the Buffaloes had employed a shot-fake, they would have easily reached 150.
The Buffaloes’ 6’7” forwards Jabari Walker (5-5) and D’Shawn Schwartz (5-7) just plain lit it up from three. Recently improved defenders Chudier Bile and Jamorko Pickett share in a piece of the blame for the hot shooting, but the team defense was not there all game. McKinley Wright IV did his job to draw switches and find the hot hands, however the Hoyas just couldn’t find the right combo of hedging and helping. On the other end, Colorado was content to allow Qudus deuces. The Casual Comments and #HoyaTwitter were begging Ewing for the small-ball lineup to limit the damage on defense and maximize three-point potential. It never came.
Latest Kente Korner is up!@BenStandig was back as we tried to make sense of Georgetown's blowout NCAA first round loss to Colorado— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) March 21, 2021
Where was the Hoyas defense, will any seniors return, and Kenner League food talk...
Subscribe & listen @CasualHoya
The strengths that Georgetown leveraged during the past week in NYC—e.g., their size, their shot challenges, their outside shooting, their guard play—became inconsistent or were turned to outright weaknesses. Even the physicality was missing as Walker was allowed to tackle Timothy Ighoefe for a measly Flagrant I foul and zero Hoya retaliation or escalation. Maybe these are are things to consider for future seasons. Or perhaps a super-hot shooting opponent just exposes a team’s biggest holes.
With everything Patrick Ewing and Georgetown accomplished last week, this squad (and the fan base) doesn’t need any more negativity from this blog contributor to take focus away. The below-linked articles are generally written by folks who at best watched only a few most-recent GU games and are oblivious to the growth we all witnessed since the COVID pause, let alone since the Navy game. Still, it’s worth revisiting some of the post-game quotes as the first-round exit was certainly a reminder of the consistency that has escaped Georgetown teams—especially on defense—until recently.
In the end, maybe Ewing could have pulled a few different levers to keep the Hoyas in the first half or maybe Colorado would have beaten any team in the country by shooting like that. My best guess is the latter.
Here are the links:
Ewing was unbothered by the whispers because he has, mostly, been unbothered by everything whenever he has been repping Georgetown. In the beginning, he was the force that delivered a championship 37 years ago. More recently, he was the one who promised deliverance back to the perch on which they once stood...
The last week helped change the narrative around the Hoyas, probably for a while. That’s a good thing. Ewing should be given all the time necessary to make things happen there. This was an awfully good first step.
“We picked the first game of the NCAA Tournament to not play our worst game,” Ewing said with a sour smile. “And I’m disappointed about that.” It was the kind of game Ewing the Hoya must have appreciated on a certain level, because it hearkened back to the kind of domination the Ewing-John Thompson Hoyas regularly displayed back in the day.
Led by Jabari Walker’s 5-for-5 shooting clinic from 3-point range, the fifth-seeded Buffs (23-8) made 16 3-pointers and shot 64% from long range. Colorado advanced to face fourth-seeded Florida State in the second round on Monday. “We’re a dangerous team. A lot of teams can’t run with us, because there are so many skill sets we have,” Walker said. “It’s really hard to beat us, I believe.”
Walker missed only one of his 10 shots on his way to a career-best 24 points, and D’Shawn Schwartz (18 points) made four of his five 3s in the first half to put Colorado into cruise control. McKinley Wright IV had 12 points and 13 assists. The Buffs made the round of 32 for only the third time since the brackets expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Shooting solves lots of problems. Colorado's Jabari Walker really stretched the floor and made it tough for Georgetown.— Marc Hart (@CoachMarcHart) March 20, 2021
Colorado put them time and time again into Ball Screen Actions for open 3's for Walker.
This they went Horns
Pac 12 3-0 so far!#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/fWKAF7PhnD
CU was equally dominant at the other end of the floor, holding the Hoyas to a .397 mark, a figure that was bolstered by a late and meaningless flurry by Georgetown.
“We wanted our threes to come as a result of our paint touches and attacking the rim, whether it was in transition, whether it was in the half-court,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Our guys did a good job of that. When we’re attacking the rim and finishing at the rim like we did (against Georgetown), and we’re kicking out for threes and making threes, we’re a really, really hard team to guard.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Chances are you can fit Colorado's entire NCAA Tournament history on the back of an old Patrick Ewing jersey. And Ewing now is part of that history, too. https://t.co/rSuVHQB9wa— GoDanRiver (@GoDanRiver) March 20, 2021
Georgetown walked into March Madness already wearing Cinderella’s glass slippers, having won the Big East tournament from the No. 8 seed despite a 9-12 regular season record. But the No. 12 seed Hoyas’ stay at the Big Dance ended well before midnight as No. 5 seed Colorado (23-8) used a barrage of 3-pointers to defeat Georgetown 96-73 on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Led by freshman Jabari Walker’s 5-for-5 effort from beyond the arc, the fifth-seeded Buffaloes made 16 3-pointers, including 11 in in the first half. Only two teams have had more in any half in the last 10 NCAA tournaments: Villanova in the 2018 Final Four and Auburn in the 2019 Sweet 16. “On the offensive end, yeah, it’s as good as we can play,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Defensively, we can do a better job of not fouling, and we can’t give up 50 points in the second half. But you score 90-some points and you shoot the way we shot tonight, again, it makes up for a lot.”
5-seed Colorado blows out Patrick Ewing and 12-seed Georgetown.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 20, 2021
The Buffaloes were 16/25 from three pic.twitter.com/o374797fSd
“Later on in the season, our shots were not falling,” Walker said. “They were today, and we knew they eventually would fall because we kept trusting the process, and we had several guys get hot, and it was one of our best shooting performances of the season.”
Another bright spot for CU was its playmaking, as they had assists on 27 of its 34 made baskets. Senior point guard McKinley Wright IV led the playmaking effort, chipping in 13 assists and 12 points, giving him his fourth double-double on the season. Head coach Tad Boyle spoke of Wright’s willingness to simply work with what Georgetown was giving him.
“Georgetown’s defensive gameplan was to make McKinley play in a crowd and not let him score,” Boyle said. “This year, Mckinley has gotten frustrated when that has happened before, and today he didn’t and took what the defense gave him. McKinley did a terrific job of being patient. He played a heady game from a ball screen read standpoint. He didn’t get frustrated with his lack of scoring.”
Wright was masterful in the pick-n-roll game, finding his teammates for open jumpers and easy dunks. He again filled the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and 13 assists, a school record in the tourney — one more than Georgetown had as a team (12). Colorado had a season high in assists, 27, and points, 96, thanks to Wright’s all-around performance.
“He just took what the defense gave him,” Boyle said. “McKinley did a terrific job of just being patient. ... McKinley just played a really, really heady game from a ball screen read standpoint. It’s as good as he’s done all year long.”
In the sunlit and shadowy Hinkle Fieldhouse, Wright had never seen a court more clearly. Notching 13 assists and no turnovers, his otherworldly care was dominant on screens.
“We felt like we had the advantage on Qudus Wahab in terms of pick and popping,” Boyle said. “We had a couple of sets that we were ready to run to pick and pop with our five-man, which we normally don’t do, but because of his plugging and kind of being in the lane there, we wanted to stretch the defense with our five.”
The Georgetown Hoyas locked arms and took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of their opening game against Coloradohttps://t.co/zPlIrNRwkI— WLNS Newsroom (@WLNS) March 20, 2021
The Buffaloes came in loose and relaxed, the opposite of how they played in losing the Pac-12 Conference tournament championship game to Oregon State. Freshman Jabari Walker, who had a career-high 24 points, said the Buffs felt like they were the underdog. That’s probably because No. 12 seed Georgetown reached the NCAAs with a four-wins-in-four-days streak through the Big East Tournament.
“It was really good especially with them winning their championship and their conference,” Walker said. “Everybody thought they were hot. They were on a roll. They had us losing this game. But really we just focused on our group, focused on what we could control. All our guys believed if we’re playing our best basketball, not too many teams in the country can beat us. ”We’re a dangerous team and a lot of teams can’t run with us, just so many skill sets that we have and the seniors that lead us,” he added. “With all that, it’s really hard to beat us...
“It was crazy coming into this game. We were like the underdog, even being a 5 seed, everybody had us losing this game,” Walker said. “We met yesterday as a team. It was like, ‘There’s really no pressure, we’re the underdog, nobody has us winning.’ Everything we do from now on, nobody expected it, so just going in with that underdog mindset, trying to prove everybody wrong.”
Press Release from GUHoyas:
#12 Hoyas Fall to #5 Colorado in NCAA Tournament First Round
INDIANAPOLIS – The 12th-seeded Georgetown University men’s basketball team dropped a 96-73 decision to the fifth-seeded Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon in an NCAA Tournament First Round game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Hoyas finish the season at 13-13 overall, while the Buffs move to 23-8 on the season.
ON THE RECORD
“Overall I’m very proud of our guys. Considering where they had us ranked, considering the obstacles that we had to overcome to get to this point. Naturally I’m disappointed in the outcome, I’m disappointed that we didn’t play our best game, but I also have to take my hat off to Colorado. They played an outstanding game.”- Head Coach Patrick Ewing
- Qudus Wahab recorded his seventh double-double of the season with a career-best 20 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, and 12 rebounds.
- Donald Carey scored 17 points, going 9-of-9 from the free throw line and hitting a pair of 3-pointers.
- Jamorko Pickett finished with 11 points and paced GU with a career-best six assists, while Chudier Bile was also in double figures with 10 points.
- The Hoyas shot 39.7 percent (23-58) from the floor and out-rebounded Colorado 29-28, holding a 17-3 advantage in second-chance points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The game was back-and-forth over the first few minutes as a 3-pointer from Dante Harrisknotted the game at 7-all.
- Colorado opened up a 17-7 lead with a 10-0 run before a trio of free throws by Carey and a Wahab layup split the deficit in half.
- The Buffs caught fire from beyond the arc, making 11 3-pointers in the first half as the Hoyas trailed 47-23 at the midway point.
- The Hoyas continued to live through Wahab on the offensive end as the sophomore center set a new career mark in points just eight minutes into the second half.
- Consecutive 3-pointers by Bile and Pickett sparked a quick 12-3 run for the Hoyas to cut the score to 68-50, but Colorado answered with a 14-2 streak of its own.
- Triples from Carey and Bile, and a transition jumper from Harris, fueled a 10-0 run for Georgetown that made it an 87-67 game with two minutes remaining, but that is as close as the Hoyas would get.
- Blair connected on a 3-pointer in the 38th-consecutive game he has appeared in, and his trey now gives him 210 for his career which is third all-time at Georgetown, trailing only D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (250) and Jonathan Wallace (240).
- Pickett’s two rebounds give him 618 for his career, which sits 22nd all-time in the GU record books.
Georgetown finishes the season with a 13-13 record, making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season. The Hoyas went 7-9 in BIG EAST play, before winning four games in four days to win the 2021 BIG EAST Tournament for the program’s league-best eighth title.