By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007
PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 17 -- Roy Hibbert and DaJuan Summers are roommates when the Georgetown men's basketball team is on the road, and they spend a lot of time together going over plays. Summers occasionally asks his older teammate if he should be taking a particular shot -- Summers is, after all, only a freshman -- and Hibbert replies that if he's open, he should take it.
"We're all going to crash the boards if he misses," Hibbert said. "But I know he's going to make it."
Summers didn't have many misses in Georgetown's 68-54 victory at Rutgers on Wednesday night, as he led the Hoyas with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The high school all-American, who moved into the starting lineup in the fourth game of the season, played like a veteran and helped Georgetown get a much-needed win after back-to-back losses to Villanova and Pittsburgh.
"It just comes with time, with playing more and getting more comfortable with the team," said Summers, who came into the game averaging 7.9 points. "I'm a lot more comfortable than I was earlier in the season . . . just in my decision-making, effort, and being mentally focused on defense as well as offense."
Wednesday's game -- against the worst-shooting team in the Big East -- marked the start of a two-game swing in New Jersey, as well as the beginning of an important six-game stretch against some of the conference's lower tier of teams. Georgetown (12-5, 2-2) faces Seton Hall (11-6, 3-2) on Friday at Continental Airlines Arena.
"We needed to get this one," said the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. "We needed to bounce back. We came to Jersey to win."
The Louis Brown Athletic Center -- often called the RAC -- was once one of the toughest places to play in the Big East; Georgetown had won in only three of its previous eight visits to the noisy arena. And although a crowd of 6,748 filled most of the 8,000 seats, Scarlet Knights fans had little to cheer about as Rutgers (8-10, 1-4) lost its third straight home game.
The Scarlet Knights were coming off of a terrifically poor offensive performance in a 60-37 loss to DePaul on Saturday; they shot 26.5 percent and finished with their lowest point total in the 30-year history of the RAC, as well as the second-lowest point total ever for any losing team in a Big East game. The local papers referred to Rutgers as "flat-out terrible," and pointed out that its Texas Bowl football team surpassed 37 points in three games.
Rutgers wasn't much better in the first half against the Hoyas. The Scarlet Knights made only 4 of 23 shots (17.4 percent) in the first 20 minutes and trailed 28-13 at the break; combined with their second-half performance against DePaul (4 for 24), they were 8 for 47 (17 percent) from the field for a total of 30 points in the 40-minute span.
"I was sitting there, my stomach was churning," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said of the first half. "I thought they did have good looks. It was just one of those nights where the ball didn't go in."
The Hoyas, meantime, were sloppy with the ball. In the first five minutes, Georgetown had one basket and five turnovers -- one from each starter. But freshman Vernon Macklin replaced Hibbert, who was stripped of the ball the first time he touched it, and the rangy 6-9 forward provided a spark. He was active on the block, establishing position and asking for the ball. After he scored off of a nice move and hook shot, Georgetown led 12-4.
"He gives teams a little different look than Roy, because he's faster," Thompson said of Macklin, who finished with seven points. "He's gotten a comfort level with what we're doing, and with how he can score down there. I thought he was very, very good."
When Hibbert -- who dominated Rutgers for a career-high 25 points in last year's meeting -- returned to the game, he was much more aggressive. The Hoyas immediately went to him, and he responded by taking the ball right at 6-11 freshman Hamady N'Diaye and scoring.