For a Georgetown team that John Thompson III continues to refer to as ‘a work in progress’, it seems pretty clear that his defense is much further along than his offense, at least at this particular point in the young season.
The 15th-ranked Hoyas smothered a second consecutive opponent on Tuesday night, this time a 64-41 victory over Texas in the opening game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
North Carolina State, which beat the Hoyas in the third round of last season’s NCAA Tournament in Columbus, defeated Connecticut 69-65 in the second game of night.
Once again Georgetown (6-1) was led by stat stuffing All-American candidate Otto Porter Jr with 14 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and three blocks.
Nate Lubick tied a career-high with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting while Markel Starks chipped in with 11 points and four assists but it was the defense that got the job done.
Just one game removed from holding Tennessee to 33 percent shooting in a historically low scoring, 37-36 win over the Volunteers in the Big East – SEC Challenge last Friday, the Hoyas limited Texas to an even lower number -29 percent shooting -and it started right from the opening jump ball.
Georgetown held Texas (5-3) scoreless for the first 4:14 in building a 9-0 lead while forcing six turnovers before Sheldon McClellan’s three-pointer put the Longhorns on the board. McClellan led all Texas scorers with 12 points off the bench.
D’Vauntes Smith Rivera’s three-pointer gave the Hoyas their biggest lead of the first half at 26-9 with 6:27 remaining before the break. Along with Smith-Rivera, Thompson III found valuable first half minutes for fellow freshman Bradley Hayes and Stephen Domingo thanks in large part to the healthy working margin.
As Georgetown keeps moving forward towards Big East play in January, it is imperative that the Hoyas are able to extend their bench past the normal seven man rotation currently being used by Thompson III.
Along with Hayes and Domingo, seldom used junior Moses Ayegba also received more playing time than usual. The 6-foot-9 center from Nigeria responded with his first basket of the season, an emphatic dunk off an assist from Starks midway through the first half.
Texas, which is missing Myck Kabongo while the NCAA continues to look into his eligibility, missed its first six shots and connected on just 8-of-28 in the first half.
Georgetown held a 30-17 advantage at halftime.
Despite their early offensive woes, Texas was able to cut the Hoyas lead to just eight at 32-24 after a three-pointer by McClellan with 16 minutes remaining.
From there, the Hoyas made life absolutely miserable for the Longhorns offense in holding Texas without a field goal for the next 9 minutes and 30 seconds.
The Hoyas defense held Texas to the fewest points since Rick Barnes became coach in 1998. The Longhorns, who lost to Division 2 Chaminade in Maui last month, made just 14 shots, hit on only 2-of-13 from three-point range, and committed 22 turnovers.
Georgetown leading scorer Greg Whittington was held to a season low five points although the sophomore did pull down six rebounds to go along with three assists and three blocks.
In what is often a great predictor of success for Georgetown, the Hoyas assisted on 17 of their 25 made field goals.
Notes: Georgetown improved to 2-0 in the Jimmy V Classic. The Hoyas took down Butler in the 2009 edition. Stephen Domingo, who skipped his final year of prep basketball, connected on his first three-pointer of the season. Another freshman Brandon Bolden, made his first appearance of the season, missing one shot in lone minute of action.
Up Next: The Hoyas return home on Saturday to take on Towson as part of a four game home stand before beginning Big East conference play. The Tigers (3-4) are led by Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon’s 14 points per game.