MEN'S BASKETBALL | Georgetown Completes Sweep of Memphis
Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 05:12
The chance was there, but Memphis couldn't quite complete the comeback.
No. 16 Georgetown (10-1) held off a late rally to defeat the Tigers (6-5), 70-59, as the Hoyas ended non-conference play with a rematch from November's Maui Invitational.
In the earlier game, Memphis was ranked in the Top-25, and it was the Hoyas who were trying to complete the upset. This time around, Georgetown found itself in the national rankings against the unranked and reeling Tigers, who lost three of their last four games.
"It's always good to beat a team two times in a row," senior guard Jason Clark said. "That's the type of game we want to have when we play in the Big East."
Clark led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and had four steals. Junior forward Hollis Thompson had 17 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore point guard Markel Starks had 14 points and senior center Henry Sims chipped 12 points and pulled down nine boards.
Georgetown led by 20 points with 12 minutes to play in the second half, but Memphis rallied, going on a 22-9 run to draw within seven points. From there, the Hoyas fought to keep their lead between seven and 10 points. Sims finally sealed the game with a big rebound off a missed free throw by Memphis forward Will Barton with 1:41 remaining. Barton was shooting the front end of a one-and-one, and could have cut the lead to six.
"They went to a zone. Normally, I get kind of excited when teams go to zones, because we usually pick it apart pretty good, but they did a very good job with it today," Head Coach John Thompson III said. "I think in several instances, we may have made too many extra passes, trying to make things happen that weren't necessarily there, but at the end of the day, we had to get some stops, and we got a few key ones, and we got some rebounds."
The teams had nearly identical numbers for the game, including 22-of-51 performances from the field, and almost the same offensive production in the paint, on turnovers, on offensive rebounds and off of fast breaks. The Hoyas came out on top because of more chances at the free throw line (30 free-throw attempts to the Tigers' 17) and by out-rebounding the Tigers, 38-29.
"We focused on playing them hard all week, just helping each other," Clark said. "Our pressure caused them to turn the ball over, and we were in the right places at the right time, doing what we were supposed to do."
The Hoyas were also able to shut down sophomore point guard Joe Jackson, who scored just two points and committed four turnovers in an 0-of-7 performance from the field. Jackson burned the Hoyas for 20 points in November.
"I thought our defense was very good for large, large stretches of tonight's game," Thompson III said.
Thompson was stunned to hear that there were just eight fast-break points by Memphis. "Doesn't it feel like a lot more than that," he asked his players, to which Thompson and Sims both replied "Yes."
"They hurt us with that tremendously in Maui — eight of the first 12 points on the island were transition baskets," Thompson said. "We wanted to get back, get back, get back."
Sims had a difficult offensive game, shooting just 3-of-12 from the field and committing five turnovers. However, he electrified the crowd at the end of the first half with a fast-break slam dunk that put the Hoyas up by seven.
"It definitely boosted our confidence, gave us a little momentum," Sims said.
Starks fueled the start of the first half, with two three pointers, while Memphis turned the ball over three times on its first four possessions. The Tigers shot just 3-of-13 from long range.
The Hoyas now begin Big East play, facing off against No. 4 Louisville next Wednesday, at Louisville, Ky.'s KFC Yum! Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.