Once again, an Atlantic Sun Conference program put a scare into Georgetown. Unlike last season's NCAA Tournament loss, the Hoyas made winning plays in the second half.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 17 points and Mikael Hopkins had all 13 of his points in the second half as the Hoyas won their third straight game with a 70-49 win over Lipscomb.
Leading 27-26 at halftime, Georgetown (4-2) started the second half with a 13-0 run as Smith-Rivera tallied 12 points after the break. After settling for 3's in the first half - and missing their last 14 - the Hoyas poured in points from the paint over the final 20 minutes, shooting 56.5 percent in the second half.
Lipscomb (3-4), which defeated Georgetown nemesis Florida Gulf Coast twice last season, closed the first half on a 7-0 run. The Hoyas showed no signs of nerves after halftime, pulling away by holding the Bisons without a point for the opening six minutes of the second half.
Asked to reveal his halftime message, Georgetown coach John Thompson III said, "I thought we needed to make shots. We had a lot of wide open shots in the [first] half and because we were getting the wide open shots, we kept taking them instead of trying to get the ball inside. I think in the second half we played more inside out."
Back on the U.S. mainland after victories over Kansas State and No. 10 VCU at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Hoyas initially maintained that momentum early with an 11-point lead. However, faulty 3-point shooting and another foul-plagued game for Josh Smith allowed the Bisons to stick around, at least for one half.
Whittington: Before tipoff, the program announced junior forward Greg Whittington had been dismissed from the team.
Leading man: Georgetown's leading scorer this season, Smith-Rivera did a little of everything against Lipscomb. In a game the Hoyas shot 7 of 27 from beyond the arc, the sophomore guard made 4 of 7 attempts. He also led Georgetown with eight rebounds and seven assists.
"He is going to score. It was good to see him finally throw some passes and get some rebounds," Thompson cracked.
The scoring certainly hasn't been an issue lately for the sophomore guard, who averaged 21.7 points during the three games in Puerto Rico while making 10 of 16 3-pointers.
" The 17 points, I will say whatever to that," Thompson continued, "but the seven assists and the eight rebounds is something that we need more of that from him. I thought he did a good job."
The turn: Known more for his defensive energy, guard Jabril Trawick sparked the Hoyas with a dunk and fast break layup immediately after halftime.
"I thought in the first half overall they were just playing harder than we were, Trawick said. "My mindset in the second half was to bring the energy.
His coach appreciate the hustle and desire.
"[Jabril] got us going and all of a sudden other guys started to feed off of his aggressiveness, his assertiveness, his energy," Thompson said.
Sitting Smith: Joshua Smith scored 14 points in only 16 minutes. Blame foul trouble for the limited playing time, though this marked the fourth time in six games he has played less than 20 minutes. The 6-foot-10, 350-pound junior center made all six of his field goal attempts, three in each half.
"He such a big guy and so skilled down there, you're almost helpless," Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. "Anytime he can get the ball with you behind him, you're at his mercy."
The issue is Smith cannot stay on the court long enough for the Hoyas to take advantage of his low post gifts. Georgetown has no replacement for his low post offense. When Smith sits, Georgetown is a completely different team, certainly in style, though Thompson doesn't think that's "an extra challenge. I think we know how we want to play with whomever in the game. Are we much different when he is on the court? Absolutely. But it is not like we have to completely reinvent the wheel. We know what to look for when he is in there, how we are going to attack things. Defensively, how we need to protect him."
Bigs: Georgetown entered with a major size advantage against a Lipscomb squad with no starter taller than 6-foot-5. That was the case even with Smith playing only seven minutes before halftime. None of that showed on the boards in the first half. Georgetown had 23 rebounds, Lipscomb 21. Second half, a different tale as the Hoyas outrebounded the Bisons 25-16.
"We just had to come back out and be aggressive, attack the glass," said Hopkins, who had all seven rebounds in the second half. "They were the smaller team. [Just] use our athleticism."
3-point follies: Starks and Smith-Rivera each made a shot from beyond the arc inside the first 90 seconds. Georgetown then missed 14 straight. Actually, half of the Hoyas first half attempts were 3-pointers despite their significant size advantage even with Smith saddled with fouls. Overall Georgetown shot 7 of 27 from distance, but went 4 of 9 in the second half.
Missing out: Moses Ayegba did not play and Reggie Cameron received only five minutes.
On deck: The Hoyas host High Point on December 5 at 9:00 p.m.