Hoyas top the Mount, eventually

jt3.png

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."

Career-best night from Marial Shayok leads No. 16 Virginia past Georgia Tech

usatsi_9827747.jpg
USA TODAY Images

Career-best night from Marial Shayok leads No. 16 Virginia past Georgia Tech

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Marial Shayok is emerging as the scorer Virginia so badly needs, and making his elevation to the starting lineup look brilliant.

Shayok had a career-best 19 points, the third time in four games he has set or tied his career high, and No. 16 Virginia used a 22-7 run spanning halftime to beat Georgia Tech 62-49 on Saturday.

"Today the guys were finding me and I was just catching and shooting and the ball was going in," Shayok said.

In his first start four games ago, he scored 17 points. He matched it the next game, and then set a new high on 6-for-9 shooting against the Yellow Jackets.

"He's wired to score," coach Tony Bennett said. "He can play off the bounce."

London Perrantes added 11 points, all in the first 7 minutes, for the Cavaliers (15-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), Devon Hall had 10 and Jack Salt had five points, six rebounds, a steal, a block and played harassing defense on Georgia Tech scoring leader Ben Lammers.

"There were a few story lines but I don't think there were any bigger than how Jack impacted the game," Bennett said after Lammers was 3 for 12 and scored seven points, less than half his 14.9 average. "Jack was just there. He was a presence."

The victory was the fourth straight for Virginia.

Josh Okogie led the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 3-4) with 14 points, all but one in the first half, and fellow freshman Justin Moore had 10.

The Yellow Jackets pulled within 29-28 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half, but Virginia scored the last six points of the half and started the second half with a 16-7 run to lead 51-35 with under 10 minutes to play.

"We've been pretty good at answering runs, but we didn't answer that one," first-year coach Josh Pastner said

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

BY TYLER BYRUM

Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Maryland are no brainers that if they keep up the pace that each team is on, they will be dancing in the NCAA tournament come March. In Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology (released on Jan. 19), he has also included three other DMV teams, two hailing from the Atlantic 10, Richmond and VCU, and Morgan State

All six are contenders for their respective conference championship, but according to Lunardi, only Richmond and Morgan State from the list of six would need to win the automatic berth to make the big dance. Every team has a different reason to be in the tournament and it is looking more likely than not that at least five of these teams will be able to maintain their standing. 

If all six can make it another month an a half, it will surpass last season's four teams (Maryland, VCU, Virginia, and Hampton) to make the tournament.

Virginia (#4 seed, ACC):

The Cavaliers (14-3, 4-2) not only have the benefit of being in the best conference in college basketball, but also have made quite a name for themselves the past handful of seasons. With no losses to sub-50 RPI teams, No. 16 Virginia is a near lock to be in the NCAA tournament, barring a huge end of season collapse. In the ACC, they sit at fourth in the conference standings, where it is anticipated that a total of 11 teams in that conference will be in the tournament.

Maryland (#7 seed, Big Ten): 

Quietly the No. 25 Terrapins are becoming one of the best team's in the country after there was some skepticism to start the season. Maryland (16-2, 4-1) has taken advantage of their moderate schedule and has seven top-100 RPI wins, but so far lack the signature win that solidly puts the team in the tournament. Next week the team will get into the heat of conference play where for the remainder of the season will have home and aways against Minnesota, Ohio State, and road games in Wisconsin and Northwestern. A key for the Terps going forward will to continue to win the games they are supposed to win and hopefully squeak one out against the aforementioned teams. 

Virginia Tech (#10 seed, ACC):

Another benefactor of the dominant ACC, Virginia Tech appears to be on track for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 when they lost in the second round. Winning all the games the Hokies (14-4, 3-3) were supposed to win in the first half of the season, and then pulling out a shocker at home against then No. 5 Duke, Virginia Tech is looking solid at this point in the season. The team still has a loaded ACC schedule to get through, including two games against Virginia and a road trip to Chapel Hill, but if the team can finish at or above .500 in conference play they should remain in. Enough has been done early on to prove the team's worth. 

Richmond (#14 seed, Atlantic 10):

The Spiders (11-6, 5-0) do not have a strong at-large resume. Earlier in the year the team had a terrible loss to Oral Roberts, currently at 228 in the national RPI, and did not get a big win to combat the loss. In fact the program's best out-of-conference win this season was over Boston College, which stands at a 165 RPI. Since though, the team has gotten hot in Atlantic 10 play winning five straight and four of those wins being their best on the season. The team does not necessarily have to win the conference championship to make the tournament, but need to continue their stretch in conference and get a couple wins against the top teams, Dayton, Rhode Island, and VCU. 

VCU (#11 seed, Atlantic 10):

Listed as on of the 'last four in,' VCU (14-5, 4-2) took a big hit in their NCAA aspirations after a devastating buzzer-beater loss to Fordham on Wednesday. Their best win is at home against Middle Tennessee, but fell short against Baylor, Illinois, and Georgia Tech to gather another strong victory. Last week the team was looking like a near lock to the big dance, but back-to-back sub-100 RPI losses has the team's outlook for the rest of the season uncertain. If the Rams can avoid anymore upsets, they should remain on the good side of the bubble at the end of the year.

Morgan State (#16 seed, MEAC):

There is no possible way for the Bears (7-10, 4-0) to make it without winning the MEAC championship and even that will be a tall task for this team. From their undefeated conference record, none of the wins came against one of the conference's top five programs. It does not appear likely they will still be on this list a week from now, but a team to keep an eye one once the conference tournament comes around for an automatic berth.

Other possible tournament teams:

From an at-large bid perspective, no other team's in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C. are within striking range. With the strength of their respective conferences, George Washington, Georgetown, and George Mason have outside shots if they were to run the table, or come close to it, and get in the bubble conversation. For all teams though, that seems highly unlikely.

Two other schools have the best chance of making the list seven or eight teams with UMBC and Old Dominion possibly winning their conference championship, the America East, and Conference USA respectively.

MORE NCAA: Should Georgetown consider letting John Thompson III go?