Strong Second Half Lifts Hoyas

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NCAA Basketball Tournament - Belmont v Georgetown
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WASHINGTON – – Perhaps still digesting some Thanksgiving leftovers, Georgetown took longer than expected in disposing of Mount St. Mary’s (MD) 72-50 on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center.

The Hoyas (4-1) got double-doubles from Otto Porter (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Greg Whittington (17 points, 11 rebounds) and shot a season best 64 percent from the field just four days after falling to top-ranked Indiana in an overtime thriller in Brooklyn.

Markel Starks added 15 points while Mikael Hopkins chipped in with 13 points for the third time in five games.

So while the final score indicates a bit of a mismatch, Georgetown clung to just a 50-44 advantage with 8:29 remaining in the game, mainly due to matching a season high with 17 turnovers against 30-year old first-year coach Jamion Christian’s self-described “Mayhem” defense.

Mayhem clearly worked early on in the first half as the Hoyas committed 11 turnovers, including back-to-back Starks turnovers to start the game.

“We kind of just came out and were going through the motions,” Coach John Thompson III explained after the victory.

“I didn’t recognize the team that was on the court.  In the second half we picked up a little bit, if not a lot actually.”

Mount St. Mary’s (1-3) came into Saturday’s game averaging a Northeast Conference best nine made three-pointers per game and used six made buckets from long distance in the first half – lead by Sam Prescott’s 3-of-6 performance – to trail by just two, 34-32, at the break.

Hopkins fueled a 10-2 Hoyas run with six quick points to start the second half and gave Georgetown its first double digit lead at 44-34.  The sophomore center had been held scoreless in the first twenty minutes.

Despite getting doubled up in rebounds, 42-21, Mount St. Mary’s hung around and closed the gap to six on a Shivaughn Wiggins three-pointer nearing the under 8-minute media timeout.

For a team that is still a “work in progress” according to its coach, Georgetown responded by hitting 9 of its final 12 shots during a 22-6 run that closed out any hope of a Mountaineers upset attempt.  Porter Jr’s dunk with just over a minute remaining punctuated the afternoon as the Hoyas bounced back from their only loss of the young season.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball better,” Whittington said about the sloppy effort that saw the Hoyas commit more turnovers than assists for the third time in five games this season.

“Against any team, they are going to take advantage of that.  Once we limit our turnovers then everything will come together.”

The Mountaineers fell to 0-2 against the Big East competition having lost to Pittsburgh in their season opener on November 9th.

George Mason transfer Rashad Whack led the Mount with 11 points.

Coming off the heels of a win over 11th-ranked UCLA and taking No. 1 Indiana to overtime in the Legends Classic, Georgetown will now wait to see if they enter the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll which will be released on Monday.  The Hoyas have been ranked at some point in seven of Thompson III’s previous eight seasons in charge at the Hilltop.

Notes:  Afterwards Thompson III  expressed his interest in attempting to make up the Florida game that was called with the Gators leading 27-23 at the half because of condensation on the outdoor court in Jacksonville.  Thompson III used just seven players against Mount St. Mary’s before the final minute when he emptied his bench.  As a result, the Hoyas were outscored 22-2 in bench points.  With the win the Hoyas improved to 22-5 all-time against Mount St. Mary’s with all but three of the meetings coming prior to 1962.

Up Next:  Georgetown will host Tennessee on Friday November 30th as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge.  Created in 2007, the Hoyas hold a 2-0 record in the event with both wins coming away from home against Alabama (2007, 2011).  Georgetown last played Tennessee in the semifinals of the 2008 Old Spice Classic with the Volunteers winning 90-78.

Follow @BobbyBancroft for more on the Hoyas

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