These Statistics Do Not Lie: Georgetown Wins Ugly

Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, left, goes to the floor and keeps the ball away from Rutgers' Anthony Farmer.
Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, left, goes to the floor and keeps the ball away from Rutgers' Anthony Farmer. (By Mel Evans -- Associated Press)
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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 6, 2008

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 5 -- John Thompson III usually has a copy of the final box score in his hands when he conducts his postgame news conference. But the Georgetown coach doesn't like to look too closely at the stat sheet, because sometimes what he sees on the floor doesn't match what is on paper.

Consider the seventh-ranked Hoyas' 58-46 victory over Rutgers in their Big East opener on Saturday afternoon. Georgetown (11-1) held the Scarlet Knights to just 31.1 percent shooting and only 46 points -- six fewer than their football team scored in the International Bowl against Ball State. But Thompson was not happy with the Hoyas' defensive effort.

"I know how I feel," Thompson said. "It's about us. . . . There's a level that we need to be at, there's a certain standard that's expected, that those guys in that locker room have to understand and expect from each other. . . . We have to hold each other and have to get to that standard regardless of what the numbers say, and we did not do that at either end of the floor today."

The Hoyas shot 47.6 percent from the floor and made 11 of 23 three-pointers, but they didn't look particularly smooth on offense. Freshman guard Austin Freeman led all scorers with 13 points.

The most glaring weakness for Georgetown -- which was reflected in the final statistics -- was its rebounding. Rutgers outrebounded the Hoyas, 43-26, and at the offensive end, the Scarlet Knights held a whopping 22-4 edge. Rutgers scored 12 second-chance points to Georgetown's one.

"It's something that we have to get better at," said Thompson, whose team has given up more than 20 offensive rebounds in three games, including its past two. "We found a way to win games while not being good at it, but now that conference play is here, we're not going to be able to come on the road and win too many games getting killed on the boards."

But it didn't cost the Hoyas on Saturday, because Rutgers shot so poorly. The Scarlet Knights' 22 offensive rebounds resulted in 16 extra shots, but they converted only four. About five minutes into the second half, freshman guard Corey Chandler missed a jump shot, and then 6-foot-11 sophomore Hamady Ndaiye (nine rebounds) misfired on two tap-ins. The possession finally ended with a steal by center Roy Hibbert (six points on 2-of-7 shooting).

The Scarlet Knights (8-7, 0-2), the worst shooting team in the Big East (40.2 percent), missed 14 shots within a foot of the basket, including a breakaway dunk by Earl Pettis. They also missed five free throws in the second half.

"They're a very good defensive team, and there's a reason why they're holding people to 35, 36 percent shooting," Rutgers Coach Fred Hill said of Georgetown, which is second in the country in field goal percentage defense (35.2). "But I've got to be honest with you, and I don't say it too much, we missed dunks, we missed layups, we missed free throws."

The Hoyas, who pride themselves on forcing opponents into taking tough, contested shots, didn't disagree with Thompson's assessment.

"I think we can be a lot better" on defense, said junior guard Jessie Sapp, who had 10 points and a team-high five rebounds. Rutgers shot "31 percent, but they missed a lot of open shots. We want to limit the open shots."

Georgetown used a 10-2 run over the final 5 minutes 40 seconds of the first half to open up a seven-point lead at the break. Senior guard Jonathan Wallace (11 points) sank a three-pointer just before the buzzer. That "gave us a boost going into the second half," said Wallace, who has made 15 of 17 shots in his past three games, including 10 of 12 from beyond the arc.

The Hoyas are 1-0 in conference play, and they picked up a victory on the road, albeit one that came in front of a largely pro-Georgetown crowd of 7,938.

"Coming into the RAC and winning is very good," said Thompson, whose team plays at DePaul on Tuesday. "This time of year, as a coach, you sit here and you want more and expect more and [say] we have to get more, but a road win in this league is good. There's no two ways about that."

Hoyas Note: Freshman guard Chris Wright was held out of the game as a precaution after rolling his ankle in practice on Friday. Wright, who was not wearing a protective boot and walked without a limp, is day-to-day, according to Thompson.

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