Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MEN’S BASKETBALL | A Tale of Two Halves

Two years ago, a 14-7 South Florida team came to Verizon Center and overcame a nine-point halftime deficit in a win over a Georgetown team that had just thrashed No. 8 Duke and would go on to rout No. 2 Villanova three days later.

When South Florida freshman guard Anthony Collins hit a layup as time expired in the first half of Saturday’s contest to cut the No. 14 Hoyas’ lead to eight, it looked like history might repeat itself. The Blue and Gray opened the second half on a 6-0 run, however, quickly putting to rest any talk of an upset as they cruised to a 75-45 win over the Bulls in the last game before Wednesday’s primetime clash witharchrival No. 2 Syracuse.

“We were down by [more than] eight a couple years ago and found a way to pull it off,” South Florida Head Coach Stan Heath said. “Today just wasn’t our day.”

Though the Hoyas’ 75-point effort was their best since an 83-75 win over DePaul on Jan. 17, the story of the game was the hosts’ defense. Two years ago the Bulls scored 46 points in the second half alone, but this time the Georgetown defense stood firm. The visitors endured a nearly 11-minute scoreless streak in which they went 0-of-6 from the field and committed a staggering 10 turnovers. The impressive defensive effort helped the Hoyas overcome some offensive struggles of their own, as they shot a mediocre 35 percent from the floor in the opening period.

That number sparkled in comparison to South Florida’s 26 percent mark, though, and the Bulls’ 15-point first half had them on pace for a season-low in points. Both offenses were hindered by foul trouble for their point guards in the first 20 minutes, as Georgetown sophomore Markel Starks and Collins — who averages five assists per game — both committed two early fouls.

“We lost our point guard with a couple [early] fouls and … we played a strange lineup,” Heath said. “We didn’t have the decision-making and ballhandling that we wanted.”

Despite their defensive success, the Blue and Gray were only up eight at halftime after enduring a barren offensive stretch of their own, going without a field goal for 9:20 of the first half. The Hoyas, though, were careful not to let their lack of offensive success get to their heads. 
”We were getting stops and we knew that the shots would start going in,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “If we defend and rebound, everything else will be OK.”

“We all felt that we weren’t scoring the ball, [but] we weren’t frustrated at all because we were playing good defense,” senior guard Jason Clark said. “We knew our shots were going to fall.”

And fall they did, as Georgetown shot a scintillating 65 percent from the field in the second half en route to 52 points. The Hoyas’ defense did let up a little bit, allowing the Bulls to shoot a more respectable 36 percent from the floor, but that appeared to be at least partially a function of the game turning into a laugher midway through the half.

“I don’t think we had better energy in the second half — the ball just started to go in,” Thompson III said. “As with life, as with basketball you make a couple [shots] it gets a lot easier to make [more].”

The Blue and Gray were led senior center Henry Sims, who had an impressive 13-point, nine-rebound, five-assist performance. Starks bounced back from a trying first half to score ten points and later reflected on Georgetown’s balanced attack that saw five players score in double digits — Sims, Starks, Clark (11), freshman forward Otto Porter (12) and freshman guard Jabril Trawick (10).

“As long as guys are taking good shots and knocking them down [scoring] is going to be spread like that,” he said. “Guys fell into a rhythm and shots were going in.”

South Florida will attempt to get back on track against a resurgent Pittsburgh team on Wednesday, but there is no doubt that Georgetown will be facing a much tougher test in upstate New York this saturday. The Hoyas won by eight in the Carrier Dome last year, and can only hope that Stan Heath was correct in his postgame assessment of the Blue and Gray.

“[The Hoyas] were more talented last year,” Heath said. “But they’re a better team [now].”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *