Georgetown men’s basketball fell late in its Feb. 4 game 68-62 against the heavily favored No. 21 University of Connecticut Huskies, despite its recently improved defensive play and impressive individual efforts from sophomore guard Brandon Murray and junior guard Jay Heath.
Georgetown (6-19, 1-13 Big East) dropped to 1-12 in conference play for the season after the game, showcasing that despite the talent on the roster, the Hoyas have been unable to overcome their glaring weaknesses.
The game started with hot shooting from the Huskies (18-6, 7-6 Big East), who took an early 15-9 lead on a 3-pointer from guard Tristen Newton, assisted by forward Alex Karaban. The Husky pair was lethal throughout the game, as each player made 3 3-pointers and helped UConn shoot a scorching 12-of-24 from the 3-point line.
Seven different Huskies hit a 3-point shot, aided by Georgetown’s guards’ inability to fight through screens, leading to shooters getting open off of motion offense curl cuts and wide-open rolling bigs who feasted off of Georgetown hedging pick and rolls.
Despite such hot shooting, Georgetown kept pace for most of the game by shutting down the rim and converting tough 2-pointers. Junior forward Akok Akok and senior center Qudus Wahab both recorded 2 blocks and provided excellent rim protection as the team’s big men.
Georgetown did an excellent job providing help defense in the painted area, holding UConn to just 37.5% shooting on 2-pointers.
Murray and Heath took on much of the scoring load, in part because sophomore guard and leading scorer Primo Spears took just 1 field goal attempt.
Spears looked reluctant to score all afternoon, and even when given open shots and clear lanes to the rim, he was much more passive than usual, mostly choosing to pass out instead. Spears’ scoring reluctance could be something to watch out for, especially since he has been the Hoyas’ primary scorer and ball-handler, as well as their most reliable option for penetrating the paint and attacking the rim.
The two teams entered the half neck-and-neck at 31 points apiece.
One worrying trend for Georgetown that persisted throughout the game was the massive disparity in offensive rebounds. The Huskies almost doubled them up, grabbing 19 offensive boards compared to the Hoyas’ 11, which resulted in UConn having 11 more field goal attempts and a significant edge in second-chance points.
Part of this disparity was due to Georgetown hedging its big men and leaving the paint unguarded for UConn’s taller and more athletic wings and guards, as well as UConn’s formidable forward Adama Sanogo and his relentless efforts on the offensive glass.
Nonetheless, the Hoyas responded well in the second half each time that UConn scored and looked to go on a run. The Huskies took their biggest lead of the half with 7:43 remaining in the contest, leading 58-50. Then, an 11-2 Hoyas run capped off by a Murray and-one gave them the lead at the 4:42 mark and got the home crowd roaring.
The Hoyas ultimately fell short once again in the clutch despite earning a late lead, just as they have in many other games this season. After the Hoyas took the lead, their half-court offense that has been shaky all season melted down.
UConn sent help every single time Georgetown attacked the rim, and the Hoyas’ lack of playmaking and shooting crippled their late-game offense. Having Wahab repeatedly post up against an excellent defender in Sanogo was also a puzzling decision, and the Hoyas had trouble even inbounding the ball and getting it upcourt.
On the other end, the Huskies snatched 2 massive offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive, and 2 clutch 3-pointers from Karaban sealed the game.
Even though Georgetown has performed better in its last few games against Big East competition, especially defensively, it has once again fallen victim to very clear schematic flaws. The Hoyas’ half-court offense is still uninspired, and its performance in clutch time leaves much to be desired.
Georgetown went on to lose 62-74 to the No. 20 Providence College Friars on Feb. 8. The Hoyas hope to earn their second Big East victory of the season as they face the Marquette Golden Eagles (19-6, 11-3 Big East), who are currently No. 2 in the Big East, at Capital One Arena on Feb. 11 at 12 p.m.
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