News and Notes
– Georgetown’s dominant play early featured some up tempo basketball, not often a feature of the more deliberate Princeton offense. As the post-game press conference came to a close, Thompson asked his father, who was standing in the back of the room, if he had anything to add. Saying that he had noticed an increase in tempo, the Hall-of-Famer quipped, “Did you decide to abandon the Princeton bullshit for a day?”
It took two months, but the Hoyas are finally living up to the preseason hype.
On Saturday afternoon, Georgetown (11-3, 1-0 Big East) looked like the team that was ranked in the preseason top 10, crushing No. 17 Notre Dame (13-2, 1-1 Big East) in its conference opener, 66-48.
Putting together their best game of the season, the Hoyas dominated the Irish on both ends of the floor. Notre Dame – which entered the game averaging 88 points per game, the sixth best scoring offense in the nation – was held below 50 points for the first time ever in Big East conference play, on 31 percent shooting.
“I think overall our defense was very, very good today,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “That is a very good offensive team. [The Irish] can score in a lot of different ways. They are averaging right at ninety points a game. . Our energy level and communication, I just thought our defense was very, very good today.”
While shutting down the Irish offense, Georgetown’s shooters put up their own impressive numbers. The Hoyas shot 57 percent from the floor and had 17 assists on 25 field goals for the game, with four players scoring in double digits.
In the first half it was all junior forward Jeff Green for the Hoyas. He had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, going 3-for-4 from three-point range. Junior center Roy Hibbert took over after halftime, scoring 12 second-half points to lead all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Guards junior Jonathan Wallace and sophomore Jessie Sapp added 13 and 10 points, respectively, to round out the top scorers for the Hoyas.
Thompson’s squad was without sophomore guard/forward Marc Egerson, previously the Hoyas’ sixth man, who left the team and the school Thursday, citing personal reasons.
“We have a lot of different people that can step up and help out,” Thompson said of his offense. “We started off early – Jeff made a three, [freshman forward] DaJuan [Summers] made a three, which was good to see – and as we went through it things kind of softened up, and then Roy got going and later on they started to fan out and we started getting cuts. So we did have offensive balance today.”
Georgetown had a hand in the face of every Notre Dame shooter on Saturday, and the Irish never fell into an offensive rhythm. Three of Notre Dame’s starters – junior forward Rob Kurz and guards freshman Troy Jackson and senior Colin Falls – were held scoreless in the second half and only one Irish player, senior guard Russell Carter, finished the game in double digits (12 points) as the Fighting Irish saw their 12-game win streak screech to a halt.
“I think you got to take your hats off to Georgetown,” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey said after suffering his worst loss in seven seasons with the Irish. “I think the combination of how they shot the ball early and how they defended us pretty much for all of the game made it very tough for us and I thought they started the game and started the second half so well, which was very hard for us to overcome. They are a very talented basketball team.”
The Hoyas came out hot and outplayed the Irish from the opening tip-off. Georgetown went on an 18-2 run over the first few minutes – with Notre Dame’s only points coming off free throws – and the Hoyas never let their lead drop below double digits once they reached an 11-point margin.
Notre Dame did not score a field goal until Jackson made a layup at 15:04 remaining in the first half and struggled offensively throughout the opening half, shooting 7-of-26 from the field and 2-of-11 from three-point range, well below their season average of 41 percent from deep.
The Irish cut the Hoyas’ lead back to 11 at halftime but Georgetown, which struggled coming out of halftime early in the season, had no such troubles on Saturday afternoon, opening the second half with 5-of-6 shooting, including three baskets from Wallace.
The Hoyas went on one final big run midway through the half – holding Notre Dame at 35 points for nearly eight minutes, Georgetown went on a 14-point run, with 10 of those points coming from Hibbert – and the Irish lost their first true road contest of season.
“I think everything came together right now, on offense and defense right now,” Hibbert said. “Our team is playing extremely well with the players we have so I can’t wait for the next game and the next one after that.”
The Hoyas did not play flawless basketball – 17 turnovers, only five points from non-starters and 6-of-13 free-throw shooting were not what Thompson wanted – but Georgetown had everything else working as it put together its seventh straight victory.
“This is a confidence boost for our team,” Green said of the win. “Notre Dame is ranked in the top 25 so we had to come out strong but we have to put it past us now. We have a game Monday so we have to go to practice and learn more about Villanova.”
Georgetown will look to keep things in sync as they take on the Wildcats on Monday night. Villanova (10-4, 0-2 Big East) is coming off a loss to DePaul on Saturday and is currently in last place in the Big East, but the Hoyas will take every conference opponent seriously.
“I have another hour to be happy,” Thompson said of enjoying the win over Notre Dame, “and then I’ll get back to school and start getting ready for Villanova. . League play is here and there are no easy games.”
Monday’s tip-off with the Wildcats is set for 8 p.m.