Following Georgetown’s worst offensive performance of the season, a 49-40 win over Providence, John Thompson III put his views on the team simply.

“With this group, all we’re concerned with is accumulating wins,” the eighth-year Head Coach said.

Rankings, shooting-percentages, margins of victory — none of these glossy numbers means much to an overachieving young Hoya squad with 10 freshmen and sophomores.

Gaining experience is all that matters, and JTIII knows — perhaps better than most coaches of late — that at the end of the season, final records matter much more than how smooth each victory was.

Despite a win that featured a 30 percent shooting performance, at 12-1, Georgetown is in excellent shape, staring at a potential Top-10 ranking following No. 10 Florida’s loss to Rutgers and No. 11 Wisconsin’s loss to Iowa.

Yet as Thompson III said earlier in the season, the rankings are “a popularity contest,” something theHoyas are simply not concerned with. Winning is all that matters at this point.

“It’s important to just keep getting wins, no matter what,” senior guard Jason Clark said after the game, echoing his coach.

The Hoyas will most likely need 20 wins, maybe more, to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament, and with 16 games left in the season, that means playing .500 basketball in the Big East. And as Providence demonstrated, nothing is guaranteed.

Granted, Georgetown was not badly missing shots. Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims were the victims of several unfriendly bounces, and the Hoyas committed just seven turnovers the entire game.

Clark and Sims combined to shoot 10-of-12 from the free throw line, and Clark finished with a very solid game, hitting six of 12 shots for 16 points, plus eight rebounds and three steals. Meanwhile, Otto Porter is making an early case for Big East Rookie of the Year. The freshman forward has tallied 20 points and 26 rebounds in his first two conference games.

“Now that conference play has started, I’m trying to be more consistent since the games are getting more competitive,” Porter said.

Long-range shooting is where the Hoyas got into trouble. With 13 minutes remaining in the second half, the Georgetown lead was cut to 35-30. During the next four minutes, four different Hoyas missed three-pointers, allowing the Friars were able to get back into the game.

The Blue and Gray, who came into the game shooting 38% from three-point range, finished 3-of-17 from beyond the arc, including a 0-of-6 mark in the second half.

The Hoyas still average about 17 long-range attempts per game, but will need to start hitting at closer to a 40 percent clip in order to survive against more challenging opponents.

“I thought we were taking too many long shots in the second half. We tried to focus on throwing it inside and we were pounding it in, but it felt like there was a lid on the basket,” Thompson III said. “A lot of the shots that [Sims] missed today, I don’t think he’s going to miss. Even when he kicked it back out a lot of our guys, [Thompson] in particular missed some shots that I don’t think he’s going to miss. You have to give Providence credit for their defense.”

On the other end of the court, a combination of tough defense by the Blue and Gray and messy offense by the Friars led to just 40 points for the visitors.

Providence freshman forward LaDontae Henton was the only player to have a notable game, scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and committing zero turnovers.

Outside of Henton, Providence shot only 9-of-44 from the field. For the game, the Friars had 13 turnovers to match 13 field goals.

Additionally, the game was bookended by impressive Georgetown defensive stands. Providence scored just 10 points in the first 17 minutes of the game and managed just five points in the final eight minutes.

“I thought we had momentum in this game for probably the second twenty minutes of this game, I thought a lot of it played into our hands,” Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “It’s just you know when you are limited on depth and limited in certain areas you’re going to come up short in somegame.”

Offensively, the Friars have struggled for most of the season, ranking outside the Top-100 in points per game and field goal percentage. The Friars were also coming off a humiliating loss to St. John’s, in which Cooley said the play of his team was “pathetic.” However, Providence does deserve praise for erasing an early 17-4 deficit and forcing Georgetown into a tight corner.

While the Hoyas could not just get anything to fall, the undersized Friars did not let up on tough interior defense, making Sims work for every shot and pushing the Hoyas into ill-advised perimeter jumpers.

Providence also out-rebounded the Blue and Gray, 45-43, but that is unsurprising considering the Friars are 26th in the nation in rebounding.

“We wanted to crowd the post and make them make tough two’s. We wanted to try and limit their three-point shooting,” Cooley said.

Ultimately, Sims was able to use his size to draw fouls and knocked down the key free throws to maintain the Hoyas’ slim lead. The 6-foot-11 center is now shooting 75 percent from the free-throw line. The Friars, meanwhile, were their own undoing, shooting just 11-of-20 from the stripe.

Georgetown did ensure that the final minutes of the game were strictly in their control, ending the game on a 14-5 run and widening the final margin to nine points, similar to how the Hoyas finished off Howard in another surprisingly close contest. 
This year’s still-maturing Hoyas squad needed a game where the shots didn’t all fall, as was the case against Louisville. For now, Georgetown fans should enjoy another Top-10 ranking, especially for a squad that received zero votes in the preseason Associated Press Poll.

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