MEN'S BASKETBALL | GU Upsets Memphis in Maui
Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 22:11
When the Hoyas needed them most, Georgetown seniors stepped up.
Jason Clark and Henry Sims led the men's basketball team (4-1) to a thrilling 91-88 overtime victory versus the No. 8 Memphis Tigers at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii.
Georgetown finishes fifth in the Maui Invitational Tournament, with a record of 2-1.
Sims, the starting center, had the best game of his career, scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing five assists, all while providing Georgetown with a dominant inside presence.
"The one thing I've stressed to Henry, first thing I told him after the game, is don't worry about scoring. Just play hard. Play hard and make the hustle plays," Head Coach John Thompson III said. "Let me think about his scoring for him. As long as he plays hard. I thought he talked about the points that he had, and a lot of those eight rebounds were hard rebounds to get. They were earned rebounds, not ones that just fell into his lap. So that's what we need out of him."
Clark led all scorers with 26 points, shooting 9-of-17 from the field, including a 4-of-7 mark from beyond the arc. The Hoyas shot 48.6% from the field as a whole, almost identical to Memphis' 49.2% clip for the game.
Clark swished a clutch three-point shot with a minute remaining in overtime that put the Hoyas up by two. After a missed shot by the Tigers on the ensuing possession, freshman forward Otto Porter grabbed the rebound, and from there, it was up to Georgetown to make their free throws, as Memphis had no choice but to foul.
After junior forward Hollis Thompson missed the second of his two free throws, the Tigers had one last chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, but great defense by Porter and Clark forced Memphis guard Adonis Thomas to take a 26-foot shot that clanged off the back of the rim. The Hoyas didn't allow the Tigers to make a field goal in overtime.
"Our guys are working hard. Depending on the lineup that we have on the court, we literally can switch everything because I have some taller guys that can guard on the perimeter and guard in the post," Thompson III said. "I have some smaller guys that are tough enough to guard in the post."
Porter shows that he is improving his play with each game, playing a full 40 minutes in which he scored nine points, had eight boards, four steals, three assists and two blocks while committing just one foul. Thompson added 12 points and seven rebounds, and sophomore guard Markel Starks scored 12 points but was limited to just 22 minutes on the floor due to foul trouble.
With one minute remaining in regulation, Memphis had the ball, up by two, with a chance to put the game away. The Tigers missed two field goals, but were fortunate that the ball ricocheted off a Georgetown player before going out of bounds both times. On the third chance, Memphis point guard Joe Jackson made an ill-advised pass that Porter stole, giving the Hoyas a chance to tie the game. Georgetown went inside to Sims, but the 6-foot-10 center's shot rimmed out, but freshman forward Greg Whittington grabbed the offensive rebound and dropped in the tying basket.
"I thought they did a pretty good job of executing. We just had some lucky bounces, and Greg Whittington got a terrific offensive rebound to put it back in, which was a key, key play to put it into overtime," Thompson III said.
Memphis still had a chance to win the game in the final ten seconds of regulation, but the Hoyas forced a long-shot that hit the front of the rim, and the Tigers had to play overtime without sophomore center Tarik Black, who fouled out of the game and was the only Memphis player capable of neutralizing Sims.
"Again, we had chances. We were up in regulation. We just didn't close it out. But this is something we'll build on and learn from," Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner said. "And you've got to give Georgetown tons of credit."
The Tigers started the game on a 9-2 run, but Georgetown one-upped Memphis with a 19-2 run in a six minute span to give the Hoyas their biggest lead of the game at 10 points.
Memphis slowly put itself back into the game, hitting three-pointers all across the court, even against solid defense by the Hoyas. The Tigers shot 55% from the field in the first half, and went 5-of-8 from three-point range.
Georgetown was by far the bigger of the two teams, but for what the Tigers lacked in size, they more than made up for in speed, constantly finding room in the middle of the Hoyas defense for a few floating shots that made the second half a back-and-forth affair.
"We did a lot of things better for them," Memphis sophomore forward Will Barton said. "But they made the key plays down the stretch to keep them in it and put them over the top. They were the better basketball team in key moments, and it showed because they won the game.
The Hoyas have not seen the last of Memphis, as the Tigers will visit the Verizon Center on December 22. It will be the fifth match between the two teams in the last five years. The Hoyas have won the last three games against Memphis, with the Tigers' only win against the Hoyas coming when John Calipari and Derrick Rose were starring for the Tigers.
Georgetown will have a few days for the Thanksgiving break, before returning home to face IUPUI on Monday night at Verizon Center.