WASHINGTON, D.C – Coming off the heels of their worst defensive performance of the season in a 72-60 loss to Pittsburgh over the weekend, 14th -ranked Georgetown found itself in an early 9-3 hole against Connecticut on Wednesday night before calling a quick timeout in an attempt to regroup.
Although afterwards Coach John Thompson III couldn’t recall exactly what he said during that spirited team meeting less than three minutes into the game, it worked all the same as Georgetown shook off the early cobwebs in defeating Connecticut 58-44 before a season-high crowd of 15,174 at the Verizon Center.
“Play harder,” Jason Clark chimed in as his coach failed to remember those motivational words of wisdom that put Georgetown back on track.
Those two words sound simple enough but they were certainly true on the defensive end as the Hoyas (17-4, 7-3) held the defending national champions to a season-low 30 percent shooting after the Huskies connected on four of their first five field goals prior to the timeout.
In what looked eerily similar to the season-high 52.1 percent shooting the Hoyas allowed against the Panthers, Connecticut was having no problems getting to the rim thanks to heralded freshman Andre Drummond.
Drummond led the Huskies (14-7, 4-5) with 18 points but he did most of his damage early on by scoring eight points in the first four minutes of the game – all on dunks and layups before the Hoyas went with a 2-3 zone to slow down the big man who attracted quite a few NBA scouts.
Hollis Thompson led Georgetown with 18 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in what was easily one of his more complete games of the season after consecutive subpar outings that limited the talented forward’s second-half minutes in both contests.
“I thought this was one of the better games that Hollis has played because he did so many things,” Coach Thompson III said after the win.
“You can look at the stat sheet…but he was key in that zone defense. Supporting and helping down on Drummond when the ball was on the weak side. This was a game…the exact opposite of what I felt was the Pittsburgh game where he was just floating.”
Despite limiting Connecticut to its lowest scoring first half of the season with just 21 points, the Hoyas let the Huskies hang around in the second half when DeAndre Daniels closed the gap to 45-39 after a layup with 7:45 remaining.
That’s when Georgetown responded behind their two seniors in Henry Sims and Jason Clark.
Clark (11 points) quickly pushed the lead back up to double digits after a strong cut to the basket resulted in an uncontested layup. He immediately followed that up with a long jumper just inside the three-point line.
Connecticut tried to answer with Jeremy Lamb (14 points), but the sophomore guard struggled all night by shooting just 4-of-18, including a dismal 2-of-11 from deep.
Lamb’s missed three-pointer, this time an air ball that drew jeers from the crowd, ultimately ended with Sims throwing it down over Lamb on the other end with an emphatic dunk that put the Hoyas up 51-39 and felt like a punctuation mark on a much needed win that could help the Hoyas regain their confidence.
“It felt good,” Sims said about his electrifying jam.
“It was definitely a momentum shift.”
His teammate then stepped in to describe how it felt from his perspective on the court.
“Everybody was like, ‘Whoa on his head,” Thompson said as his eyes lit up, unable to hide his smile.
Georgetown kept pace with the top of the Big East standings by remaining in third-place, two games behind league leading Syracuse.
Connecticut, which just this week dropped out of the Associated Press rankings after starting the season at No. 4, has now lost four straight games and six out of its last eight.
Up Next: Georgetown hosts South Florida at the Verizon Center on Saturday at 11am in a game that can be seen on ESPNU. The Hoyas hold a 4-2 overall advantage over the Bulls in Big East play, including 2-1 at home.