Walkover: Georgetown 86, UNC-Greensboro 45

Georgetown turned on the pressure early and never relented Monday night, storming past the visiting UNC-Greensboro Spartans en route to a 86-45 victory. Unlike Saturday, when the Hoyas started slowly before closing emphatically, Georgetown stifled the Spartans from the tip Monday, amassing early leads from 13-4 and 20-6 and allowing just 16 points in the first half. Their swarming defense and energy on the boards generated plenty of extra possessions on the offensive end, where Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson led the way, making the Hoyas’ first 12 baskets and finishing with 19 points apiece. Hollywood provided long-range accuracy, hitting five threes in all, while Clark got it done all over the court, finishing at the rim, distributing to his teammates, and also stroking from deep.

Neither star saw much action after intermission, when the Hoya advantage swelled to 46, allowing JTIII to give the kids some run. All of the freshmen got their chances: Otto Porter and Greg Whittington further cemented themselves as the primary options off the pine, Jabril Trawick and Mikael Hopkins again looked like solid role players, (red-shirt frosh) Aaron Bowen scored his first points of the season in impressive fashion, and Tyler Adams made his debut.  

The contrasts from Georgetown’s opening win over Savannah State were encouraging. While the Hoyas got their first win thanks to sharp shooting, Monday’s win came thanks to Georgetown’s smothering defense, which caused an impressive 22 turnovers and forced the ice-cold Spartans into just 16 -of-54 from the field. While the Hoyas couldn’t keep up their hot shooting from Saturday, netting just 45 percent of their shots against Savannah State, they actually exceeded Saturday’s total of 85 point by collecting 19 offensive rebounds and nearly doubling their free throw attempts from 12 to 22. There also were signs of individual development, as Markel Starks, who sometimes struggled in the opener, looked much sharper in the second half Monday, finishing with eleven points. The constants between the two games likewise were encouraging. Georgetown was versatile offensively, as nine of the twelve Hoyas to hit the court scored at least five points. Particularly positive were the contributions of senior center Henry Sims, who, while regressing from his career high 19 points on Saturday, still racked up eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists, all in just 17 minutes of play.

Georgetown doesn’t play again until next Monday, when it faces #11 Kansas as the first of three games in Maui against heightened competition. While the opponents will be tougher next week, the first two games hardly could have gone better. Thompson and Clark established themselves as the primary options without forcing the issue, while role players like Sims, Starks, and Nate Lubick (6 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist in just 17 minutes Monday) all proved that they can contribute. And Georgetown showed signs of a new defensive identity, forcing turnovers and shutting down opposing offenses. After a shaky first half against Savannah State, the Hoyas dominated the last three halves, outscoring their opponents by an average of 35 points per game. Those wins have served their purpose, giving the Hoyas the confidence they need as they head into their first test of this young season.

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