For 40 minutes on Tuesday night Georgetown matched top-ranked Indiana at every turn in what quickly resembled a game normally reserved for the madness of March.
That was the good news for John Thompson III’s unranked group that had knocked off Top 25 opposition just 24 hours earlier in the form of the UCLA Bruins.
Then, came the bad news.
An extra five minute overtime period,one that actually extended into early Wednesday morning, would be needed to determine the winner in the championship game of the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center.
So despite putting up a furious comeback attempt in the final minute and change of regulation that saw the Hoyas erase a seven point deficit, culminating in Otto Porter Jr’s drive with 4.6 seconds remaining, Georgetown dropped its first game of the season to the top-ranked Hoosiers, 82-72 in overtime.
Markel Starks led the Hoyas with 20 points while Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls paced the Hoosiers (5-0) with 17 points a piece.
The fouls began to pile up for the Hoyas in the extra session as Jabril Trawick and Starks fouled out to join Mikael Hopkins, who had reached his quota during regulation. Indiana outscored Georgetown 18-8 in overtime with 13 of those points coming from the free throw line.
The Hoyas committed ten more fouls than their Big Ten counterparts – 27-17 – and as a result attempted just ten free throws compared to 36 for an Indiana team that returns all five starters from last season’s Sweet 16 squad.
Both teams traded heavyweight punches in the form of long-range shots, particularly in the first half when the Hoyas (3-1) connected on 8-of-14 from three-point distance yet still trailed by four at the halftime break, 36-32.
Georgetown held a brief four point lead midway through the second half after back-to-back jumpers from Trawick gave the Hoyas a 49-45 advantage. Indiana, which shot nearly 60 percent (10-of-17) from three-point distance, answered with two long range bombs of their own before Starks tied the score at 51.
Over the next five minutes the Hoyas self destructed into a patented, if not predictable, scoring drought that was far too common last season for Coach Thompson III’s liking. Although Georgetown went down with a fight, it was the second half drought that would prove to be too much to overcome in the end.
Despite the failed upset attempt, Georgetown is coming home from Brooklyn a far different team than than the one that left on Sunday night with numerous questions still unanswered.
The most glaring difference is that Otto Porter, Jr is back in the lineup. Although somehow snubbed from the All-Tournament team by the curious voters at the Legends Classic, Porter Jr was arguably the best player in the two night event in putting up gaudy numbers in every category.
For the second night in a row Markel Starks showed that he is ready to be the next lead guard for the Hoyas following in the recent footsteps of Jason Clark and Chris Wright by scoring 20 points and connecting on 4-of-7 three-pointers. Last season Starks showed a glimpse of his potential against Louisville in December but never regained his form.
Coach Thompson III seems to have settled into a rotation that he feels comfortable with now that his most heralded player is back and it’s a bit surprising considering the impact freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had, albeit against lesser competition, in his first two games. After scoring 30 points in those two outings, Smith-Rivera managed just three points in a combined 22 minutes in Brooklyn.
Leading up to the first game of the season Coach Thompson III was adamant that he would not be playing a center by committee and he has so far kept his word. Hopkins and Nate Lubick took every available minute at the five spot for the Hoyas against UCLA and Indiana. Neither Moses Ayegba or Bradley Hayes got off the bench other than to congratulate teammates during timeouts.
In a bit of a role reversal, Hopkins seems to be gaining confidence, which is showing up in the box score as well on the court, while Lubick seems to have taken a step back, particularly with a rough performance against Indiana that included five turnovers and zero made field goals. The junior did have four assists but was much too reckless with the ball in Georgetown’s pass heavy offense that requires its big men to facilitate far more than most other teams.
Notes: Georgetown is now just 3-17 against schools ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press but hadn’t played the top-ranked team in the country since losing to Ohio State in the 2007 Final Four in Atlanta.
Up Next: The Hoyas host Mt. Saint Mary’s on Saturday before welcoming Tennessee to the Verizon Center on November 30th as part of the Big East – SEC Challenge