No. 15 Georgetown hosts ex-Hoya, Towson

No. 15 Georgetown hosts ex-Hoya, Towson
December 7, 2012, 8:00 pm
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Tuesday's 23-point win over Texas stands as Georgetown's largest margin of victory on the young season. The matchup against the Big 12 opponent also represented the Hoyas final game against a power conference program this calendar year. Considering where the Hoyas began the season - unranked with rotation uncertainty and a youthful roster devoid of seniors - holding a 6-1 record might have the No. 15 ranked team in the nation thinking they have it all figured out.

The man running the program says no, not this group - though John Thompson III is there ready to counter any swelled head scenarios just in case.

"They have a coach that does a pretty good job of keeping that in check," Thompson cracked following Friday's practice at McDonough Arena. On Saturday at the Verizon Center Georgetown hosts Towson, led by ex-Hoya Jerrelle Benimon. The noon tipoff is the first of four on paper favorable matchups before the Jan. 5 Big East opener at Marquette.

Not that Thompson and the Hoyas are looking past the CAA's Tigers (4-4). Not that the team has an inflated sense of status despite their ranking, sophomore forward Otto Porter playing at an All-American level or a resume that includes wins over Texas, UCLA and Tennessee and a near miss against top-ranked Indiana.

"I don't think we think we're that group," Thompson said. "I don't think we think we're that good. I think we have an honest group, honest in terms of the effort they give, honest in terms of their assessment of themselves individually and collectively...I don't think they are floating around here thinking they have solved the problems of the world."

That's not to say the head Hoya isn't impressed with where his team is to date.

"Starting the year if I said we' have one loss [at this point] I'd probably be very surprised," Thompson said. "With that being said, we have to play a lot better than we have been playing once conference play rolls around. The good thing about the preseason you get a chance to figure out to learn each other, to learn how, what's best for this group to win and now we have to work on it."

Porter, Georgetown's second-leading scorer (12.0) and rebounder (7.5), led the Hoyas with 14 points against Texas, though Thompson noted that collectively the offensive "flow was not good" against the Longhorns. Fellow sophomore Greg Whittington finished with more turnovers (7) than points (5) in the win.

"A lot of it was turnovers, Greg stumbling around out there," said the coach, playfully ribing his leading rebounder. "We gave them some opportunities we shouldn't have. Just our decision-making wasn't as quick and as sharp as it should have been."

Against the Tigers, Georgetown will have to work on stopping a trio of former Big East players; the 6-foot-8 Benimon, guard Mike Burwell (South Florida) and center Bilal Dixon (Providence), who grabbed 16 rebounds as a freshman against the Hoyas.

"They've had their ups and downs this year, but at the end of the day they are a veteran team," Thompson said. "They have three Big East players right there... It's not like they are going to out here and be intimidated or scared."

Benimon, who left Georgetown after his sophomore season, was a key reserve especially during his freshman season. With the Hoyas, Benimon's role focused on doing the dirty work rather than scoring - he never averaged more than 1.4 points or took more than 37 shots in either of his two seasons.

 That's not the case with the Tigers. The rugged low post threat is the only Towson player averaging in double figures with 16.3 points. In a win at Vermont on Wednesday, Benimon sank 11 of 15 field goals and tallied a career-high 29 points. Benimon also leads the Tigers in rebounding (9.9), blocks (1.5) and field goal shooting (53.8).

"It's nice to see he's found a good fit for himself at Towson," said junior Nate Lubick, who played with Benimon during the 2010-11 season. "He's playing well. That will be a pretty good opportunity to play against him."

Thompson said of his former player, "He's playing very well right now, which is not a surprise. He's a very good player. He's going to pose problems for us tomorrow. He's a load down there, very smart player."

Benimon left Georgetown just as the heralded class led by forwards Porter and Whittington entered. Asked for his take on why it did not work out for Benimon at Georgetown, Thompson replied, "This place is not for everyone. Everyone is not for Georgetown. Doesn't make you a good guy or a bad guy. He wanted to go somewhere else where he seems happy. That's good."