Georgetown’s once-again stingy defense conspired with an atrocious Connecticut offense to hold the Huskies without a field goal for more than ten minutes Wednesday night. In the process, the Hoyas turned an early six-point deficit into a lead they would never relinquish, riding Hollis Thompson’s sweet stroke and timely scoring from their other two upperclassmen to a 58-44 victory.
This game started much like the last one ended, with the Hoyas following up Saturday’s lax defensive effort against Pitt with similarly poor play early against UConn, which made six of its first seven shots. Husky uber-freshman Andre Drummond domainted the post early, making four of those six early buckets. But then the Huskies went away from Drummond, who did just okay when he did get the rock. Instead, UConn mostly kept the ball outside, lazily passing around the perimeter of changing Georgetown defenses. Zone and switching man both invited long-range hoists by the Husky guards, who dutifully complied with brick after brick. The Connecticut back-court of Jeremy Lamb, Ryan Boatright, and Shabazz Napier, who average a combined 42 points, shot just 4 of 31 from the field, netting just 15 points between them. While 14 of those points were Lamb’s, he was perhaps the principal offender, repeatedly throwing up errant heat checks from well beyond the three-point arc.
By the time Connecticut’s drought ended–not in a monsoon, but in a bare trickle–the Hoyas had taken the lead. Thompson scored eight straight Hoya points, then Henry Sims put in six straight in versatile fashion, with in a pair of foul shots, a mid-range jumper, and a driving lay-in. A nifty Nate Lubick feed to Thompson for a lay-up ended the half’s scoring with Georgetown up ten. The game was never really in doubt again: the Huskies closed the gap to six just once, whereupon Jason Clark scored consecutive buckets and Sims made the play of the night with a rim-rattling dunk to push the lead back to 12. Thompson finished with 18, a nice bounce-back after a two-game slide, while Sims and Clark scored 13 and 11, respectively.
Much like the old contrast between campaigning and governing, some wins are poetry, and others are in prose. This one was definitely the latter. While Georgetown’s defense deserves some of the credit for Connecticut’s 30 percent shooting, more blame should be given to the Huskies, who alternately looked cold and and toxic Wednesday night. Boatright and Napier, locked in a zero-sum game for minutes, both were forcing the issue on offense, while all three guards seemed incapable of acknowledging that Drummond was their only viable option. And coach Jim Calhoun, apparent endower of whatever academic scholarship Drummond is receiving, employed roughly zero tactical changes throughout the game. On the Hoya side of the ball, improved defense scarcely affected an offense that continued middling results (decent, 44 percent shooting but 15 turnovers) after poor performances against Pitt and Rutgers.
But every win is important in Big East play, including Wednesday’s, which kept the Hoyas in the top four in the conference as the schedule moves into its back nine. With another one in the bag for the Hoyas, Saturday’s showdown with South Florida, of the surprising 6-3 conference mark, looms suddenly large.