Instant analysis: Hoyas survive Colgate

Instant analysis: Hoyas survive Colgate
December 7, 2013, 2:45 pm
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For the first time anyone could recall, John Thompson III entered the postgame media room without any players in tow.

"I don't think they played well enough to earn the right to come talk to you guys," the Georgetown coach said shortly after his team fended off Colgate 61-55 on Saturday afternoon.

Nobody in the room questioned his assessment.

Josh Smith scored 14 points, Markel Starks 12 and Nate Lubick had 10 as the Hoyas (6-2) fended off the Raiders their fifth straight win. 

As the saying goes, you can't teach height. Fortunately against Colgate, Georgetown had size on their side. Fortunately for the Hoyas, the nation's top 3-point shooting team never found their range. 

The Hoyas' big men offset a woeful perimeter shooting performance cleaning up one misfire after another against a plucky mid-major unafraid of the big bad Big East program. Smith had four of Georgetown's 15 offensive rebounds and the Hoyas outscored Colgate 38-20 in the paint. 

The usually potent backcourt pairing of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Starks clanked throughout as Georgetown finished 1 of 15 from 3-point range. 

Georgetown never trailed, scored the game's first 10 points and held Colgate (4-3) without any points for the opening nine minutes and led by 14 in the second half. All that and yet the Raiders certainly made the game uncomfortable despite for the Hoyas despite not making its usual array of long distance attempts. Austin Tillotson led the Raiders with 21 points. 

Colgate, which entered as the only Division 1 team making over half its 3-point attempts, used a 9-0 run to make it 43-38 with 9:21 remaining. Fouled shooting from beyond the arc, Murphy Burnatowski made three free throws for a 55-50 score with 2:32 remaining. The Raiders' rather Princeton-y offense layup with 39 seconds made it 56-52 with 39 seconds.

The Hoyas made 6 of 8 free throws inside the final 50 seconds and 15 of 20 in the second half after only five attempts before halftime. Smith, a 64 percent free throw shooter on the season, made a pair with 16 seconds remaining.

Georgetown's inability to shake the Patriot League school felt eerily similar to recent NCAA Tournament mishaps. Well, minus the neutral site, packed stands, energy in the building and the fact that the Hoyas pulled out the victory. To be clear, almost all of what was just said in those previous two sentences is not a good thing. At least, as Georgetown coach John Thompson III noted postgame, the Hoyas can hopefully learn from a win. Certainly better than the alternative.

They said it: “To be honest – and I don’t want to say this as if I’m taking anything away from them – I think we did it to ourselves today. I don’t think they did anything. Our group has to play a lot smarter, we have to make good decisions, if we want to win. They played a soft man-to-man which we picked apart. We did a very poor job of executing today.” -- Thompson on why his team struggled offensively.

Scoring struggles: All involved would surely rather forget about the first half offense. 

Georgetown rattled Colgate defensively for the opening nine minutes, holding the Raiders without a point until Austin Tillotson's 3-pointer. By that point, the Raiders were 0 of 8 from 3, missed all 11 attempts overall and committed six turnovers. Difficulties occurred simply bringing the ball past halfcourt as three times they were whistled for 10-second violations. 

"We obviously got off to a cold shooting start," said Colgate coach Matt Langel, whose team entered with a four-game winning streak. "We don’t have the luxury of being able to pound the ball inside and pound the glass and I credit Georgetown for doing that in the second half. Really making it hard for us to protect the basket, but we’ve got, just the way our team is built and the players we have, we’ve got to be able to make jump shots."

But, Tillotson quickly added two more 3-pointers, keeping the Raiders close in the moment and essentially throughout.

With little in the way of aesthetically pleasing production, Georgetown forged a 10-0 lead before Tillotson's first basket. The visuals on the court and certainly on the court did not improve for the Hoyas as the half progressed. 

At one point, both teams were 0 of 8 from 3, but the Hoyas had offensive rebounding and superior athleticism on their size. Three of Georgetown's first six field goals were on putbacks - two by Smith. Only one the Hoyas nine first-half field goals was not a layup. That trend never changed.

"We come out, we execute, we get the ball two feet from the basket and it doesn’t go in, so those things – they have to go in," Thompson said.

Despite that interior and speed advantage, the Hoyas only attempted five free throws before halftime with a 21-15 lead. 

Stepping up: Georgetown's most consistent performer in the game, Lubick made of 5 of 8 attempts and matched Smith-Rivera for team-high honors with seven rebounds. 

Misses: The cold hard stats are as follows: Smith-Rivera, Georgetown's leading scorer, finished 1 of 8 from the field and missed three of four from beyond the arc. He did not register a point in the first half. The sophomore guard's only basket came with 17:30 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer danced around the rim before falling. 

He was not the only errant culprit. Starks went 3 of 13, 0 for 5 on 3's. Jabril Trawick finished 2 of 6, Reggie Cameron missed all three of his shots.

Most games Smith-Rivera and Starks lead the offense, certainly from the outside. Most games the Hoyas would not survive a combined 4 of 21. 

Oddity: Tillotson attempted and made three 3's within a four-minute span of the first half. He never fired off another, though he still generate points, finishing 8 of 8 on free throws. 

On deck: With students entering exam week, the Hoyas are off until December 17 when they close a four-game homestand against Elon. 

"When putting the schedule together I intentionally take this week off because of school. Perfect world, can you keep playing? Yeah, but they have a lot of work to do. You can still work, you can still improve.