After an 81-66 loss to Penn State last Thursday, the Georgetown men’s basketball team defeated the Georgia State Panthers in a high-scoring 91-83 affair Sunday, Nov. 17, at Capital One Arena.
Despite making five fewer shots from the floor, the Hoyas (3-1) shot a season-high of 51 free throws in the 91-83 victory over the Panthers led by a 58-44 second-half performance. In a bounce back performance for struggling sophomore guard Mac McClung, McClung made 11 free throw attempts and went on to lead the Blue and Gray with 25 points in the matchup.
After the game, McClung was quick to recognize the importance of a bounce back performance in ending his offensive struggles in a postgame interview.
“Obviously, I had a little bit of a slump going on. I don’t think it was the teams we we’re playing. I just think it was something I had to deal with personally,” McClung said. “I think every player goes through those slumps.”
The Hoyas jumped out to an early 17-11 lead after a second-chance layup from senior center Omer Yurtseven. Despite the early lead, Georgia State (1-3) scored nine unanswered points to take a one-point lead with 8:43 left in the first half.
Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) showed frustration with his team’s shooting struggles after it managed to make just two of 12 from behind the three-point line in the opening half.
“We have guys on our team who are shooters, but they need to step up and make shots,” Ewing said.
Behind 12 points from Josh Linder in the first half, the Panthers went on to outscore the Hoyas 19-14 to go into the locker room with a 39-33 lead. Georgia State shot an impressive 52% from the field while limiting Georgetown to 30%.
To begin the second half, the teams traded buckets and the Panthers retained a 48-45 lead. After an and 1 from Yurtseven, the Hoyas took their first lead since the opening half.
Georgetown returned to the court with more energy provided by sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc, who finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds in his strongest performance of the season. Yurtseven, who ended the night with his fourth consecutive double-double, scoring 15 points and snatching 13 boards, was also as reliable as ever.
After the game, Ewing praised his starting center’s play, especially his 11 offensive rebounds.
“I thought that we overpowered them. Omer had 11 offensive rebounds,” Ewing said. “He didn’t make some of them, but he did an outstanding job of creating more opportunities for us.”
After a McClung jumper with 7:58 to play, Georgetown managed to extend its lead to seven. With 3:01 left, LeBlanc slammed a fast break dunk home to bring the score to 82-71, and the 11-point cushion proved enough for the Hoyas to cruise to an 8-point victory.
Georgetown fixed its mistakes during the second half, outrebounding Georgia State 22-12. In turn, the Hoyas outrebounded the Panthers 39-33 overall. Sophomore guard James Akinjo chipped in 11 points and junior forward Jamorko Pickett dropped 10 to support the strong scoring of McClung and Yurtseven as the Hoyas’ third and fourth leading scorers.
The game bodes well for better play when the Hoyas travel to Madison Square Garden to compete in the 2K Empire Classic against the Texas Longhorns, according to Ewing.
“It definitely feels good. We would hate to be going there with two loses, so hopefully it will pick us up now both individually and collectively,” Ewing said.
Despite the win, Ewing knows his squad will face one of its toughest out of conference opponents of the year in Texas. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 21, at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 and can be heard locally on the Team 980 on 95.9 FM.