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Cook Fires Up Hoyas
Pep Talk Helps GU Rally on the Road: Georgetown 71, Oregon 57

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005

EUGENE, Ore., Dec. 3 -- Two days after the Georgetown men's basketball team dropped its home opener to Vanderbilt, senior guard Ashanti Cook pulled his teammates together and gave them a little pep talk, reminding them to stay focused and work hard.

Cook, who struggled against the Commodores, heeded his own advice Saturday afternoon, scoring a career-high 25 points and making 8 of 10 from the field to lead the Hoyas to an impressive 71-57 victory over Oregon in a Hispanic College Fund Classic game in front of 9,087 at McArthur Court. Georgetown (3-1) ended Oregon's 35-game home nonconference winning streak, which dated from December 1999.

"That's a very, very good win, and that statement is an understatement," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "This is one of those games where you come across the country and you're playing against a terrific team that plays well in this building, a poised team. I thought our guys just showed a lot of toughness in how we went about our business."

Cook gave the Hoyas a lift early. Oregon (4-2) jumped out to a 12-4 lead after seven minutes of play, but Cook hit a three-pointer from the right side that ended a six-minute scoring drought for Georgetown. Cook made all four of his three-point shots in the first half, and that helped the Hoyas take a 28-23 halftime lead.

Georgetown scored the first seven points of the second half. Cook drew a charge on Oregon's first offensive possession, senior Darrel Owens (five assists) made a three-pointer, 7-foot-2 sophomore Roy Hibbert scored inside, and Cook made two free throws after being fouled on one of his few drives of the afternoon.

The Ducks had difficulty stopping the inside-outside combination of Hibbert (16 points and 10 rebounds) and Cook.

"That's how this offense works," said Hibbert, who made 5 of 6 shots from the field. "If they take away one thing, they can't take away the other. If I'm getting shots down low, eventually they're going to get sucked in, and Ashanti is going to be able to take people off the dribble and hit his shots."

Said Cook: "Every night it's going to be a different person stepping up, and I guess it was my night."

Throughout the week, Georgetown's coaches hammered home the importance of getting back on defense to prevent transition baskets -- "We had to run, run, run in practice," Hibbert said -- and also the need to get rebounds. The Hoyas did well on both fronts: Oregon was credited with just one fast-break basket, and it scored only eight second-chance points. Forward Jeff Green and Hibbert combined for 19 rebounds, which nearly equaled the Ducks' entire team. Georgetown held a 37-20 rebounding edge.

"Our guys were just attentive," Thompson said.

The Ducks were not. The Hoyas found ways to get Cook the ball, whether it was Green driving and kicking the ball out to him on the wing, or a player setting a screen that Cook could curl off. Once, Cook used a nice crossover to create some space for a long pull-up jumper.

Thompson said Cook has the ability to get shots off because of his good legs and his good dribble moves. Also, this is Cook's second year in Thompson's system, and he is figuring out how to get his shot in the flow of the offense. But Cook was able to get his shot off because the Ducks were anticipating the drive; after the game, Oregon guard Aaron Brooks still characterized Cook as a driver, not a shooter.

Cook was not a factor in last week's 68-61 loss to Vanderbilt; he was limited to just 17 minutes because of foul trouble, and he missed all four shots he took. He spent the week thinking about what he did wrong, so that he could learn from it.

"I was just thinking, 'I can't do that in order for us to win,'" said Cook, who was voted one of the team's captains along with Green. "I'm a senior. I was mad after the loss, mad at myself. But I put it behind me and just had to bounce back and get our team riled up for the Oregon game today."

Hoyas Notes : Green went to the locker room midway through the second half after falling hard while drawing a charging foul, but he eventually returned to the game. Thompson said afterward that he thought that Green banged his shin, and that Green was fine. . . . The game was played with experimental rules: The three-point line was extended to 20 feet 9 inches, the lane was widened to 14 feet and a three-foot restricted area was added in the paint.

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