Self-inflicted: Cincinnati 68, Georgetown 64

Georgetown shot itself in the feet over, and over, and over again Monday, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory en route to a 68-64 loss to Cincinnati. The loss was more vexing than most, as it was caused almost entirely by the Hoyas’ own mental mistakes.

Despite their errors, the Hoyas led for much of the game, building a 59-53 lead with just under six minutes remaining. But then they just collapsed, failing to score another field goal until a meaningless last-second lay-up. They left points, possessions, and other opportunities on the floor in every way imaginable. Careless, timid, and half-hearted passes lead to pointless turnovers, 17 in all. Missed defensive assignments allowed Bearcat guards Sean Kilpatrick and Dion Dixon to shake free time and again for 27 and 22 points, respectively, belying the Hoyas’ supposed defensive improvement. And the Hoyas’ offensive woes and mental miscues down the stretch debunked any rumors about their clutch play.

There are two particularly unfortunate aspects of this debacle. The first is that it wasn’t all bad: Georgetown actually shot well for most of the game, making 59 percent overall despite the late-game slump. Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson shot a combined 11 of 13 from the floor, netting 14 points apiece, though each missed his last shot and was largely absent down the stretch. And Nate Lubick had a strong performance, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds, and establishing a nice high-low combination with Otto Porter that led to several baskets. Hot shooting from Georgetown’s two leading scorers combined with solid contributions from the young guys should lead to a win.

But the slip-ups were simply too many, bringing us to the second especially irritating detail: the team’s veterans were largely to blame for the late-game collapse. Seniors Clark and Henry Sims led the Hoyas in turnovers, committing nine between them, while Clark and, especially, Thompson simply disappeared with the game on the line. Also among those veterans facing criticism should be JTIII. The squad repeatedly looked out-of-sorts coming out of second-half timeouts, failing to execute any discernible play, including one in the last minute with the game on the line. Ultimately, an 11-2 stretch “run” by the Bearcats over nearly six minutes spelled doom for the Hoyas.

The Hoyas now have suffered back-to-back losses against teams that seem to thrive on making the game frustrating. The thrilling last-minute wins, miraculous comebacks, and winning streaks all seem to be a distant memory, rather than one of three days ago. At the very minimum, the shoe’s on the other foot. The flaws we all knew were lingering–the lack of a truly reliable veteran, the unproven depth–bore their heads over the past four halves. And the supposed virtues of youth, length, and confidence all seem a bit more tenuous. Morning, and looking forward to the next game (and, in the case of the players a few days of needed rest and practice beforehand) probably will bring calmer nerves, a bit more perspective, and maybe even a refreshed optimism. But for now, we’ll just lick our self-inflicted wounds.

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