Hoyas top the Mount, eventually

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Hoyas top the Mount, eventually

Earlier this week the Hoyas showed they could hang with the best of the best. On Saturday - and for the third straight home game - Georgetown failed to demonstrate the same sense of urgency against a non-power conference program. Eventually John Thompson III's squad toned down the turnovers and put Mount St. Mary's away but only after allowing the undermanned Northeast Conference program to stick around.

Otto Porter and Greg Whittington each posted double doubles and the hot-shooting Hoyas closed the game with a 22-6 second run as Georgetown improved to 4-1 with a 72-50 win over Mount St. Mary's at the Verizon Center.

Porter finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Whittington played all 40 minutes, finishing with 17 and 11. The sophomore forward tandem shot a combined 14 of 21 as the Hoyas connected on over 60 percent of their attempts in both halves. Georgetown doubled up Mount St. Mary's on the glass 42-21.

While those are all great stats, as was the result, the in-game execution had the coach pondering who the guys were dressed in the home gray as Georgetown only led 50-44 with 8:04 remaining.

"It was intensity. They came out and played extremely aggressive and came after us. I don't know whether the guys didn't believe the coaches when we told them that's what's going to happen. We came out kind of going through the motions. I didn't recognize the team that was on the court.

Up six, Porter's layup sparked a run of eight straight points, which led to the decisive finish. Georgetown sank 9 of its final 12 attempts and shot 63.8 percent overall. The Mountaineers made 6 of 14 three-pointers in the first half, but as the Hoyas defensive intensity grew, the misses mounted. Mount St. Mary's missed 9 of 10 from beyond the arc after the break; went without a field goal over the final 3:01 and shot 25.8 percent (8 of 31) in the second half.

"In the second half we picked it up a little bit - a lot actually," the Hoyas coach said, who credited his team's offensive work against the Mountaineers pressure defense for the change after being "too casual as receivers, too casual as dribblers" early on.

When the Hoyas maintained possession, they found ways to score especially around the basket, finishing with a 48-20 points in the paint advantage. Avoiding turnovers early on proved problematic; Georgetown committed 11 of its 17 turnovers in the first half.

"It was a big concern. Do I think it’s systemic? No, but we were just too casual," Thompson said of the turnovers.

"One I didn’t recognize what we were doing in the first half. In the second half, I think we just executed our press offense and got open. I thought in the first half we were too casual as dribblers and too casual as receivers. So once we stopped being so casual out there it wasn’t as bad."

Asked about the difference in tone between facing Mount St. Mary's and the just completed two-game swing in Brooklyn against UCLA and top-ranked Indiana, Whittington said, "They’re a D1 school so they’re going to come and play as hard as any other school would and we knew we had to play them. It took us a while, but we picked up our energy and came out in the second half ready to get on our horses."

Georgetown's schedule veers back into notable opponent territory with Tennessee visiting on Friday in the Big East-SEC challenge. Human nature suggests the Hoyas concentration jumps up several notches for the nationally televised tilt as it did when they faced UCLA and Indiana early this week in Brooklyn. As for whether the flip side of the human nature angle contributed to his team's slow start against the Mountaineers, the Hoyas coach was not interested in such excuses.

"Yeah, but so what. That's easy to say. We have to get to the level, mentally focused where that does not happen. Where each and every time you step on the court it's special."

* Markel Starks continued his scoring surge, finishing with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Over his last three games, the junior guard is averaging 19.3 points while knocking down 57.9 of his attempts.

* Forward Mikael Hopkins, the only Georgetown player to score in double figures all five games, had 13 points in 27 minutes, but only grabbed two rebounds.

* Because the game remained in doubt throughout, Thompson never dipped deep into his bench, using only seven players until making wholesale changes in the final minute. Four starters including played over 30 minutes with guards Jabril Trawick and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera picking up the rest.

"That is not how I want to be, that’s now how I wanted today to be," Thompson said. "We have some guys, from Moses [Ayegba], to Stephen Domigo, to Aaron Bowen to Bradley Hayes that we need to get ready. But it was an eight –point game with five or six minutes to go."

Having even his more established options still in learning their new role mode also contributed to the tighter rotation.

"Part of the growth of this team is that we have Mikael still growing, Markel is in a different role, Greg is in a different role from last year, Otto is Otto, and as much as we have to get past our first seven, those guys are still settling into new roles and totally new positions that they have to get accustomed to before league play starts, before eight, nine and ten get ready."

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert threw five touchdown passes, the last three after Virginia had squandered all of a 28-0 lead, and the Cavaliers gave coach Bronco Mendenhall his 100th career victory, 49-35 over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Benkert hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a go-ahead 82-yard pass after the Cavaliers defense forced its first punt since the opening quarter. Virginia (1-3) forced another punt, and Benkert hit Albert Reid for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 73-yard drive. Taquan Mizzell also scored twice for Virginia on runs of 4 and 53 yards.

"That's a happy group of young men in that locker room," Mendenhall said. "I'm certainly not saying we've arrived, but it's a nice start."

The Chippewas (3-1), seeking their first 4-0 start since 1985, scored on four of five possessions after going behind 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.

Cooper Rush for 402 yards and two touchdown passes to Corey Willis, including an 85-yarder, and Amari Coleman read a screen pass perfectly and scored on a 47-yard interception return.

Mendenhall, in his first year at Virginia, was 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU before coming east.

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas are a confident team, and showed it even when trailing by three touchdowns in a loud stadium. They used timeouts when Virginia had the ball late in the second quarter to stop the clock, and cashed in with two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half to get within 28-14.

Virginia: Rush picked apart the Virginia secondary, which lost cornerback Juan Thornhill on the first play of the game. The unit also lacks speed and played off the Central Michigan receivers for much of the day, allowing several long completions that produced third-down conversions. Kareem Gibson was a frequent target, but acquitted himself with a fourth-quarter interception to set up an insurance TD.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan: The Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Virginia: The Cavaliers, losers of 17 in a row on the road, will try to end that skid as they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Duke.