Nine days after being thumped at the Verizon Center, the Georgetown men’s basketball team returned to its home floor by staging an offensive and defensive clinic in a decisive 71-51 victory over the No. 16 Creighton Blue Jays on Wednesday.
From the get-go, the Hoyas (11-10, 2-6 Big East) had their way with the Blue Jays’ (18-3, 5-3 Big East) defense, moving the ball around and creating opportunities for their shooters. Georgetown shot an impressive 50 percent from the floor in the first half, compared to Creighton’s 37.9 percent.
Having lost 16 straight Big East games to teams other than DePaul and St. John’s, there was a different mantra about the Hoyas.
“I just want to give God the credit and thank Him for the win,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said after the victory.
The trio of junior guard L.J. Peak, graduate student guard Rodney Pryor and sophomore center Jessie Govan led the scoring for the Hoyas, finishing with 20, 18 and 15 points, respectively. Peak had a career night, eclipsing 1000 points in his Georgetown career and becoming the 46th Hoya to achieve such a feat.
From the opening tip, Georgetown moved the ball with a different liveliness than in previous games. After a positive start, the Hoyas missed several easy shots from inside. For an 8-minute span, both teams combined for as many points as minutes. However, Georgetown continued to go through its offensive progressions and maintained a steady tempo.
Down two with seven minutes left in the first half, the Hoyas went on a 13-2 run to take a seven-point lead. Pryor, Peak and Govan executed several three-point plays around the basket and from behind the arc to combine for 24 consecutive points to close out the first half.
“Obviously neither team shot the ball very well, with that even as poor as we played offensively I felt pretty good about where we were with seven minutes to go,” Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott said regarding a sloppy first half. “I think it was 16-15. Then they scored 23 points in 11 possessions and we never recovered from that. We really didn’t have an answer for Pryor or Peak, they were both really good.”
“We knew we needed to get into our stuff quicker and be more aggressive with our cuts, with our movements,” Pryor said about the team’s offensive approach. “I got some looks early and stepped up and knocked them down.”
The Hoyas conceded minimal open shots to a prolific Blue Jays offense that averages 87 points per game. After losing standout senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. for the season to injury, the Blue Jays struggled from the field all night. Redshirt freshman sensation Justin Patton was 9-of-13 from the field. Leading scorer junior guard Marcus Foster — averaging 18.7 points per game — was held to 5 of 15 shooting and made zero of his four attempts from deep.
Just like in the Jan. 16 matchup against Providence, the Hoyas’ movement on offense had a direct effect on their defense. Last week, the Hoyas did not progress through their offense and spaced the floor poorly, subsequently struggling to maintain constant energy on defense. Against Creighton, Georgetown’s up-tempo half-court offense translated into consistent energy on the defensive end and the glass, where Georgetown outrebounded Creighton by 11.
“We were very, very engaged,” said Thompson, discussing the cohesiveness of Georgetown’s defense. “And as a unit, I thought we did maybe the best job we’ve done this year, or even in a couple of years, of the people off the ball anticipating what was coming next.”
Although Georgetown normally struggles on board play, Govan and Thompson noted the importance of rebounding throughout the game.
“We just made sure we put a body on everybody,” said Govan, describing Georgetown’s success on the boards. “That’s a team that you have to box out because a lot of their offense is shooting the ball and then rebounding and getting second opportunities and third opportunities. We made sure we put a body on everybody and made sure we boxed out so they couldn’t get those opportunities. And it worked in our favor today.
“I think a lot of people, when you talk about rebounding, you start talking about the big guys,” said Thompson. “Our perimeter guys haven’t been as engaged with rebounding as they were today. [Junior guard] Jon Mulmore with six, Rodney with five and [freshman guard ]Jagan with four.”
Georgetown will look to continue its high-level of play in a rematch with Butler on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on CBS Sports.
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