Whittington, Georgetown top Liberty


Whittington, Georgetown top Liberty

One challenge presenting the Hoyas this season involved replacing their top three scorers from the previous campaign. No one said anything about getting by without All-American candidate Otto Porter. Through two games, that's been the task. Against Liberty, the burden was hardly a chore, though any sense of urgency disappeared early in the second half.

With the All-American candidate sidelined over concussion concerns, fellow sophomore Greg Whittington carried the scoring load as Georgetown moved past the visiting Big South program 68-59 on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in the regional round of the Legends Classic.

Whittington scored 12 of his career-high 18 points in the first half and grabbed nine rebounds for the Hoyas, who led by 16 points at halftime and double digits throughout until the final minute.

Before tipoff, the school released a statement from Coach John Thompson III that Porter, the Hoyas (2-0) leading returning scorer and rebounder, would not play as he "exhibited symptoms indicative of a mild concussion," following Sunday's 61-55 win over Duquesne.

Porter played a scoreless six minutes against Duquesne, holding his head and wincing in pain as he left the game for good midway through the first half. The 6-foot-8 forward and Preseason All Big East first-team selection did not return to the bench, though he watched from the sideline against Liberty after playing in the first 34 games of his Georgetown career.

"I think he's coming along fine," Thompson said following the Hoyas final tune-up before facing No. 13 UCLA on Monday in Brooklyn. After the semifinal of the Legends Classic, Georgetown will meet either top-ranked Indiana or Georgia on Tuesday.

"I think he'll be available but that's up to our medical staff," Thompson said. "He's progressing. It's mild, it's not moderate, or it's not serious."

Against the undersized Flames (0-3), the black suit sporting Porter watched his gray-jersey wearing teammates handle their business, but also play down to their overmatched opponent in stretches. The Hoyas extended their lead to 55-32 with 13 minutes remaining, but took their foot of the gas and ultimately outscored 34-27 in the second half.

"With all due respect to Liberty, we've got some games coming up, we're preparing for some teams a little bit better than them," said junior Nate Lubick, who also set a career-high with 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. "We use these games to find ourselves, to find what this team's identity is going to be...I think we've kind of struggled to do that the past two games. I don't think our sense of urgency has been there."

Liberty made its first two shots for a quick four-point lead only to see the Hoyas unleash an effective full court press that caused 11 first half turnovers and spark a 17-0 run.

Playing without three frontcourt options and with only one starter taller than 6-foot-5, the Flames found success from beyond the arc. Five first-half 3-pointers helped cut into the lead at 23-18, but the Hoyas closed the first half on 18-6 run.

Markel Starks' perfectly executed bounce pass to a streaking Whittington for a layup capped the first half scoring and gave Georgetown its largest lead of the half at 41-25. Whittington made 6 of 8 shots in the first half and the Hoyas finished 16 of 26 (61.5 percent).

"[Greg] has that responsibility slash burden to do a lot of different things," Thompson said of his other talented sophomore forward and the one who dominated the boards in Georgetown's season opener. "I don't think it's any surprise to see he scored points today no more than it was a surprise that he got 15 rebounds the last game."

Whittington's 3-point touch was not readily apparent, however, missing all five of his attempts. He was hardly an outlier from distance as Georgetown shot 2 of 15 overall from beyond the arc, missing eight of nine 3-pointers after halftime.

Defensively the Hoyas allowed Liberty to shoot 52.6 percent (10 of 19) from 3-point range. The Flames entered the contest making 27 percent of their 3-point attempts.

"They got Sunday, out at the park shots and they went in," Thompson said of the Flames from distance looks. "Our attention to detail at the defensive end, I don’t think was good all night. Our communication was not good all night, so regardless of the combinations coach has out there, we have to be better."

Casey Roberts led Liberty with 13 points.

"We probably caught Georgetown on a night that they weren't quite as inspired as they will be later in the year. It's understandable," Liberty coach Dale Layer said. "I thought we played our best that we've played, and it took every bit of our best just to kind of hang in there and not be a 30-point blowout."

Mikael Hopkins also tallied 13 points and freshman guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 11. On the boards, the taller Hoyas only finished with a 29-27 rebounding margin.

"[Liberty] fought and scrapped and that’s a credit to their coach," Thompson said. "From our perspective, we’re trying to get ready for the future. So sometimes, you have in different lineups that you want to see how they work and different combinations and people in different positions. It’s hard to go through that and say let’s not look at the scoreboard, let’s remember what we’re trying to accomplish right here."

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Serious scare for John Wall after falling hard vs. Hawks

Serious scare for John Wall after falling hard vs. Hawks

ATLANTA -- The last time John Wall took a tumble like he had Thursday night in the regular-season opener vs. the Atlanta Hawks, he had five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist. This time, the culprit wasn't Jeff Teague. It was Kent Bazemore who undercut him on a breakaway to the basket and the Wizards' point guard left the locker room with two sore fingers on the same hand. 

"I went through that same problem when we were in the playoffs, got undercut and broke my hand," Wall said of the play on May 3, 20015, in the East semifinals when the Wizards took a 1-0 lead but lost their All-Star for three games. "That's the reason why I reacted the way I did. Because for some reason every time in this building, I get undercut.

"I'd rather you challenge and try to block the shot than just run and stop. I have nowhere to land. I have nowhere to go. It's the same way I feel if he was shooting a jump shot and I run underneath him, you can break somebody's ankle. ... I feel like if you're not going the challenge, what's the point of going down there?"

At least Bazemore was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul at 8:01 of the third quarter. Wall made both foul shots but then turned it over when the Wizards got another possession for the technical. They were up 69-63 with a chance to pull away but it didn't happen.

When Teague took out Wall, no foul was called as he stayed sprawled on the floor while the game continued. 

"Those plays shouldn't be in the game. You learn that from the first time you step on the court. When the guy goes up, you never undercut him," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It wasn't on purpose. His momentum carried it. But we all as a league have to be better in those situations. Those situations are career-ending when a guy is in mid-air, if you (don't) get there quick enough you have to let it go."

Bazemore tried to explain, not realizing that even though Wall is a right-handed shooter, he mostly finishes at the rim left-handed. 

"He is a right-handed player and I thought he was going up with the right. He came in with the left," Bazemore said. "I don't play the game like that. We are both North Carolina guys. We have a bond even before all of this. Just an unfortuante play. We hugged and made up after that."

As Wall walked out of the locker room he told CSNmidatlantic.com that two fingers on his left hand took the brunt of the fall but he wasn't overly concerned about it. After getting medical opinions, Wall returned in that playoff series with the Hawks despite the breaks in his hand and almost got the Wizards to upset them. 

There are no indications that Wall is in jeopardy of not playing in Sunday's road game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. 

"I don't know. I don't feel it now because my adrenaline was going," he said. "But I might feel it later on tonight."

[RELATED: Wizards let Hawks run away in 4th in opening loss]

Jerod Evans sizzles as No. 25 Hokies earn road win vs. Pittsburgh


Jerod Evans sizzles as No. 25 Hokies earn road win vs. Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- One of the nation's worst secondaries kept daring Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans to throw.

So he did. Over. And over. And over.

The junior shook off a right ankle injury to throw for a career-high 406 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 25th-ranked Hokies to a 39-36 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Joey Slye tied the school and Atlantic Coach Conference records by making six field goals to help the Hokies (6-2, 4-1) beat the Panthers (5-3, 2-2) on the road for the first time in 17 years.

Pitt came in with the nation's 120th-ranked pass defense yet played bump-and-run for most of the game, hoping its defensive backs could win more than they lost.

Didn't happen.

Instead, three Tech wide receivers topped 100 yards in the same game for the first time in school history. Isaiah Ford's 10 receptions included his school-record 23rd receiving touchdown. Bucky Hodges caught six passes for 145 yards and a score and Cam Phillips added 109 yards on a night the Hokies piled up 556 total yards.

"It's a great feeling when you can do what you love doing and that's throw the ball up and down the field against a pretty good defense," Evans said. "One-on-one coverage. You can't ask for anything better than one-on-one coverage."

Pitt coach Narduzzi built his reputation as defensive coordinator at Michigan State by requiring his secondary to play physical. He's intent on doing the same at Pitt, even as the weeks pass and improvement only comes in sporadic bursts. Facing the Hokies, it was no different.

"We had guys in position to make plays," Narduzzi said. "We didn't make them. . There's not a whole lot of different ways to do it."

Evans left briefly in the third quarter after getting his right leg rolled up on but returned to lead a fourth-quarter surge that included Slye's sixth field goal. Slye joked it got a little bit boring knocking in chip shot after chip shot, though he's hardly complaining after the Hokies won at Heinz Field for the first time in five tries and assured themselves of a bowl berth for a 24th straight year, the longest active streak in the nation.

It's a notable streak, but bigger goals lie ahead. The Hokies will end the weekend no worse than tied in the loss column with North Carolina atop the Coastal. Virginia Tech owns the tiebreaker, having beaten the Tar Heels decisively this month