MEN'S BASKETBALL | Kansas Dismantles GU
Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013 17:12
In what could have been a statement game for a Georgetown team struggling to find its basketball identity, it was No. 19 Kansas who made the statement with an emphatic 86-64 shellacking of the Hoyas.
Georgetown started out strong, trading buckets early on before a dunk from senior forward Aaron Bowen and a three from senior guard Markel Starks pushed the Hoyas ahead, 21-15.
But the Hoyas’ big men were in foul trouble all day, and Jayhawks’ freshman center Joel Embiid and senior forward Tarik Black, who transferred from Memphis to Kansas, made Georgetown pay by knocking down their free throws. In all, Kansas took 18 more free throws than the Hoyas, which proved to be the difference.
Black’s 10 first-half points gave the Jayhawks the halftime lead, but the Hoyas, trailing 44-34, were still within striking distance. The starting five for the Hoyas, however, managed only three first-half rebounds — all at the hands of sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
The second half was a different story, however, as Georgetown came out of halftime flat. The Hoyas pulled within eight after four consecutive points from junior guard Jabril Trawick, but that turned out to be the closest they would come.
In all, Georgetown’s first true road game went about as badly as it could have.
Kansas completely dominated the final 15 minutes, and Georgetown was unable to string together good possessions on either end of the court. Defensively, the Hoyas gave the Jayhawks two free throws seemingly on every possession, and offensively, Georgetown was unable to consistently find good looks.
Junior center Joshua Smith fouled out of the game with 12 minutes remaining. He finished with 5 points on 2-of-4 shooting, 2 turnovers and 0 rebounds. The final category is perhaps most troubling and his lack of mobility was often accompanied by pointless fouls. Senior forward Nate Lubick joined Smith on the bench a few minutes later when he picked up his fifth foul.
Georgetown had a tough time keeping up with the athleticism of Kansas’ frontcourt. Junior forwards Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba were perhaps the only two Hoyas able to contain Black and Embiid, but Hopkins was 0-of-7 from the field and Ayegba fouled out with seven minutes remaining without attempting a shot. Even worse, Kansas out-rebounded Georgetown, 39-29.
Kansas’ Embiid finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds while Black finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Standout freshman guard Andrew Wiggins was quiet offensively, tallying 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but he dished out four assists and played spectacular defense on Smith-Rivera.
It is difficult to find any bright spot for Georgetown in this game. Smith-Rivera finished with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals, but he shot an inefficient 4-of-9 from the field. Starks led all scorers with 19 points, but vanished for long stretches of the game, only to reappear with the game already out of hand. Smith had some nice post moves and good passes early on, but when Kansas adjusted its defense on Smith and took advantage of his immobility, the big man resorted to fouling. Trawick finished with 9 points on 3-of-4 shooting, but sat for much of the first half with two early fouls.
Perhaps therein lies the problem with this Georgetown team: Every advantage this team has is wiped away by its flaws. When the guards are assertive, Trawick and Bowen play smart and the big men take advantage of their size, this team is tough to beat. But good coaching — a trait aptly attributed to Bill Self of Kansas — can force Lubick and Smith out of position to get them in foul trouble and can back off less dangerous shooters like Hopkins and Bowen to clog the lane, making it difficult for the Hoyas’ very skilled backcourt to score.
It will be difficult for Head Coach John Thompson III to cover up his players’ weaknesses while still utilizing their strengths, particularly because Georgetown’s offense requires each player on the court to excel — or at least maintain competence — in multiple facets of the game. On a team of specialists, Georgetown needs generalists.
Georgetown will now return home to take on Florida International on Dec. 28. FIU is one of the better rebounding teams in the nation and recently beat Florida Gulf Coast, the team that notoriously knocked off Georgetown en route to a Sweet 16 appearance as a No. 15 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. Tipoff is slated for noon.