MEN'S BASKETBALL | Georgetown to Take On Texas at the Garden
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 02:12
Georgetown will have a chance to rebuild its image in front of a national audience tonight when it travels to Madison Square Garden to take on Texas (5-2) in the annual Jimmy V Classic.
The No. 15 Hoyas (5-1) took part in one of the ugliest games in the modern era of college basketball last Friday, a 37-36 win over visiting Tennessee that left fans stressed out, reporters confused and Twitter comedians gleeful with the gold mine of new material — “#hoyas” was trending worldwide by the end of the night.
The performance, dubbed “Clankfest” in a Yahoo! Sports headline, featured sub-.500 marks at the charity stripe for both squads and no double-figure scorers for either. Bizarrely, the Hoyas’ offensive execution looked solid throughout the game — until the ball reached the rim, anyway — so Head Coach John Thompson III focused on shooting in practice leading up to tomorrow’s showdown with the Longhorns.
“We missed 17 or 18 three-foot shots at the rim,” Thompson III said. “We’ve just got to put the ball in the basket.”
Junior forward Nate Lubick, who missed the second half of the Tennessee game after banging his elbow on the head of the Vols’ Jarnell Stokes and subsequently losing feeling in his arm, was a partial participant in Monday’s practice. He reports no lasting effects and will play tonight.
Lubick’s presence will be valuable against a Texas team that ranks among the best in the nation in rebounding. The Hoyas’ frontcourt is already somewhat undersized, so going up against the Longhorns without their most experienced player could have been disastrous.
With its big man rotation intact, Georgetown will be considered a solid favorite to cruise to a win at the Garden tonight. But if that doesn’t play out, it’ll likely be due as much to backcourt play as frontcourt play.
While rebounding is their biggest strength — they rank 30th of all Division I teams — the Longhorns rely nearly completely on their backcourt for scoring. Sophomore guards Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis lead the team with 17 and 12 points per game, respectively. Both, as well as freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou, are capable of lighting it up from long range.
The latter point will likely make or break tonight’s game. For all the hype surrounding its length on the perimeter, Georgetown has proven itself somewhat vulnerable to three-point shooting this season. At their best, the Hoyas can smother opposing gunners; at their worst, they’re slow on closeouts and fall for too many head fakes. Against an offense as precise as Texas’, those mistakes could dig Georgetown a nasty hole.
“They do a very good job of getting the shots that they want to get,” Thompson III said. “They know what they’re looking for, they make sure they execute and they get those shots.”
The Blue and Gray jumped to No. 15 in yesterday’s AP poll despite Friday’s struggles, and a strong performance against the disappointing Longhorns will be necessary if they wish to justify the writers’ faith. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.