Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next


Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next

Inconsistent play combined with a missing sense of urgency during season-opening wins over Duquesne and Liberty proved obvious without Georgetown's head coach and players later concurring. Having All-American candidate Otto Porter for only six minutes in one game and out entirely in another did not help. An admitted case off the look ahead's with a matchup against a ranked UCLA on the horizon, also not helpful.

With Porter back and the UCLA contest on the day's agenda, the Hoyas (3-0) performance against the Bruins Monday night went the way of famed wrestler Bret Hart: excellence of execution.

The prize for turning in an impressive 78-70 win in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn? Georgetown faces top-ranked Indiana on Tuesday. Playing in the other semifinals, the Hoosiers, downed Georgia 66-53 despite an off scoring night from National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller.

There was little off about Porter and the Hoyas, who led 31-29 at halftime, surged ahead with a 12-0 run opening the second half before putting the game away with another late run in the final minutes. Markel Starks paced four double-digit scorers with 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting, Greg Whittington tallied 13 points with three 3-pointers and the Hoyas shot 54.5 percent from the field.

However, it's no coincidence the stepped up effort followed Porter's return. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, three steals and sank both of his 3-point attempts. That's some serious stat stuffing, that's why scouts view the sophomore as a potential lottery pick.

Another dose of hot shooting and do-everything play from Porter and the other Hoyas will be required for the clash against Indiana (4-0). After missing a plethora of 3-pointers early on against Georgia, the Hoosiers found their range, particularly guard Jordan Hulls, who drained 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points in the 66-53 win over the Bulldogs.

Zeller, considered by many the top returning player in the country, finished with only six points. Don't count on consecutive bad nights offensively for the skilled 7-footer, though the Hoyas have tons of length they can throw at the Player of the Year candidate. Upper Marlboro native Victor Oladipo paced Indiana with 15 points.

Three thoughts heading into tonight's showdown with Indiana, the first meeting between the two traditional basketball powers since the 1979-80 season.

* The Hoyas length, especially when Georgetown coach John Thompson III employs at least four 6-foot-8 players on the court at the same time in his zone defense, can be an intoxicating visual. Though the Hoosiers shot 5 of 16 from beyond the arc versus Georgia, they are knocking down 3's at a 38 percent clip. Winner of this matchup likely wins the game.

*Before Monday night, Starks' career game came last Dec. 28 at then No. 4 Louisville when the then sophomore guard made 7 of 8 shots for a career-high 20 points in a Georgetown win. That player has rarely showed up since. In the following 20 games including the opening two this season, Starks had not topped 11 points. More than simply tallying points, the chatty guard often played with more bark than bite. That led to fewer minutes in spots as last season progressed and raised some concern about the Hoyas backcourt this season considering the youth behind Starks. Against UCLA, the aggressive and confident version showed, one that also finished with a career-high four steals. More of that against Indiana would go a long way toward a Georgetown triumph.

* Effective inside and on the break, Zeller shot 62 percent from the field while averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds last season as a freshman. Mere stats did not define Porter's strong freshman campaign. They won't during his second year on the Hilltop either, they we can already see the numbers growth potential from Georgetown's de facto point guard. While not paired in a direct matchup, no doubt comparisons between the equally instinctive sophomore' become part of the game's backdrop. Giddy up.

Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?


Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is the nation's leading rusher. In just six games, he already registered 1,111 rushing yards for an average of 185.17 yards per game.

What's more, he has been consistently great in his career and he now ranks 10th overall in career rushing yards among FBS players.

So does the Aztec running back have a realistic chance of winning the Heisman?

No, next question.


Sorry to be blunt about it, but the answer is no. The reason? Competition.

The level of competition seems to matter more to Heisman voters than the stats. That makes it very hard for players of non-power conference teams to even rank among the finalists.

Take Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds who was not even given an invite to New York last year despite his historic season last year. If you need more evidence that stats don't matter, how about Christian McCaffrey? McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards last season and still came in second in the Heisman ballots to Derrick Henry.

That's not to say that Henry wasn't deserving, he had a phenomenal season, but statistically he came nowhere near McCaffrey.

The question you must ask yourself is what would Pumphrey's numbers look like if he was playing against SEC teams every week? Would he still be having the same kind of season?

That's an impossible question to answer and an unfair one to ask. The fact is, Pumphrey is running all over Division 1 athletes. He's been phenomenal and would do much better if he was placed on the roster of a SEC or a Big Ten team than many may think. I certainly think he is deserving, but I don't vote for the Heisman.

Based on recent history, when the finalists gather in New York, Pumphrey will very likely not be among them.

Who will? Find out here in the updated Heisman Hopefuls.

College Football Playoff projections: Contenders survive close calls


College Football Playoff projections: Contenders survive close calls

The race for the College Football Playoff was on the verge of chaos this week.

Multiple top contenders received scares and, while they all ended up coming out on top, it's fun to think about what the conversation would be this week had those teams fallen.

CLICK HERE FOR the updated WEEK 7 College Football Playoff projections

The week started off with Louisville struggling to put away pesky Duke. Even Lamar Jackson looked human with only two total touchdowns on the night.

Ohio State was held to six points in the first half against Wisconsin. It took a late field goal from the Buckeyes to force overtime where they eventually overcame the Badgers. Quick side note on Wisconsin: They won't make the playoff and may not even win their division with two losses already, but the Badgers are for real. They just happen to be in a conference with two top 10 teams in Ohio State and Michigan.

Clemson flat out should have lost to NC State. The Wolfpack missed a 33-yard field goal as time expired that would have won the game. They should have lost.

But they didn't.

Last week's games stand as a stark reminder of the fragility of the playoff projections. For now, there remain no real surprises in the top four. As the season goes on, however, certain teams are starting to make you wonder if they can stay on course.

CLICK HERE FOR the updated WEEK 7 College Football Playoff projections