MEN'S BASKETBALL | GU Offense Returns In Jimmy V Classic
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 23:12
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr.’s 14 points tied for a game high against Texas at the Garden. He a
New York, N.Y. — After junior forward Nate Lubick injured his elbow early in Friday night’s 37-36 win over Tennessee, few expected to see an offensive explosion from him any time soon.
But the power forward brought his A game to New York City, and his sharp play early on helped build a 9-0 advantage that proved insurmountable as No. 15 Georgetown (6-1) rolled past Texas (5-3) 64-41 in Tuesday’s Jimmy V Classic.
“You come up here and you win,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “We’re playing against a well-coached team, a very talented team. … We’re just happy to walk away with a win.”
Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. edged Lubick with a total of 14 points, although he did it on 7-for-16 shooting as opposed to the junior’s more efficient 6-of-7, 13-point performance.
Both players, though, had to step up because of a quiet night from sophomore center Mikael Hopkins. He played only nine minutes in the game due to early foul trouble, scoring only one point.
“Today was probably his roughest outing by far — but he is progressing,” Thompson III said. “We are fortunate we have other guys to step in when he’s struggling, because he really struggled out there today.”
While the forwards admirably helped fill the hole left by Hopkins, Georgetown’s guard play was crucial to the victory as well. Freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera played especially well off the bench, putting up seven points and six rebounds.
The Blue and Gray also showed new resolve on the offensive glass, grabbing 14 offensive boards compared to 11 for the Longhorns. Overall, Georgetown outrebounded Texas 41-35.
Still, Thompson III was still not totally satisfied with his team’s performance, noting that even though it was better than during the victory over Tennessee, that did not mean Georgetown had improved dramatically.
“I don’t think our offense was that good tonight. We were stagnant — very stagnant — in the second half,” Thompson III said. “Yes, there are tactically some things we have to do better, we have to tighten up. But I don’t think anyone … came out of [the Tennessee game] thinking we were having trouble and can’t score.”
While those point totals were better than Friday’s, the game was possibly even sloppier. The teams combined for 36 turnovers and 21 steals, and sophomore forward Greg Whittington alone gave the ball away seven times.
But there was little to find fault with on the defensive side. The Hoyas harassed the Longhorns at every turn, forcing 22 turnovers and holding their opponents to just 29.2 percent shooting from the floor.
“I thought we were attentive [defensively],” Thompson III said. “They had to work for everything.”
Texas’ point total was the lowest in the 18-year history of the Jimmy V Classic, easily “besting” the previous low of 51 set by Illinois in 2003 and tied by Memphis in 2004. Georgetown nearly set the record for least points in a Jimmy V victory, but Smith-Rivera’s free throws with 34 seconds to play pushed the Hoyas past the 62 points Memphis scored in a 2007 win.
The Longhorns’ offensive struggles — which prompted Texas coach Rick Barnes to express his disappointment after the game — allowed Georgetown to open up an early 9-0 advantage despite not playing its best basketball.
It often appeared that the Longhorns, with their poor ballhandling and ill-advised shooting, were playing against themselves.
Texas also shot a woeful 11-for-21 from the line, although Georgetown wasn’t much better, knocking down just 10 of its 16 attempts from the charity stripe.
And both teams found three-pointers in short supply, with the Longhorns shooting 15.4 percent and the Hoyas 22.2 percent from beyond the arc.
The Hoyas’ lead had extended to 30-17 by halftime, and Texas never threatened in the second half, allowing Thompson III to clear his bench and work 14 players into the game, although several played negligible minutes.
With the win, Georgetown earned its first victory at Madison Square Garden this season. The Hoyas will have at least two more opportunities to win at the World’s Most Famous Arena, playing St. John’s on Jan. 12 and participating in the Big East tournament in March.
Before they can start thinking about that, however, Georgetown will have to get past former Hoya Jerrelle Benimon’s Towson squad (3-4) on Saturday. Tip-off at Verizon Center is set for noon.