Austin Freeman shoots Georgetown past UNC Asheville

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 28, 2010; 12:11 AM

It didn't matter if Austin Freeman spotted up in the left corner, the right corner, at the top of the arc or whether there was a defender on him. If the Georgetown senior launched a shot from behind the three-point line Saturday, chances are it went in.

Freeman tied a single-game school record for three pointers with seven and finished with a game-high 32 points in only 27 minutes as the 16th-ranked Hoyas overwhelmed UNC Asheville, 87-72, at Verizon Center in a contest that was not closer than a dozen points in the second half.

"I wanted to be aggressive, take good shots and not force anything," Freeman said. "I hit a couple and felt like I was able to take more shots and make them. When you're open and your teammates find you, you just have to knock the shot down."

Freeman's point total was the second highest of his career, coming up one point short of his memorable 33-point performance last season against Connecticut. He missed only two attempts from three-point range and in the process equaled a school record shared by Mark Tillmon (1990 vs. Providence) and Darrel Owens (2005 vs. South Carolina). The Hoyas, meantime, improved to 6-0 for the second straight season and 12-0 all-time against opponents from the Big South.

"Really, he might break [the record] before the year is over," Coach John Thompson III said. "He was hot. His teammates did a good job of getting him the ball. He put it up, it went in."

After the score was tied at 7 with 16 minutes 47 seconds left in the first half, Freeman sank a trio of three-pointers in the span of 67 seconds to spark a 23-0 run that, in effect, ended the competitive portion of the game. Freeman also converted his third four-point play of the season during that decisive stretch, while the Bulldogs misfired 11 times and turned over the ball six times.

"We knew we had to take away the three-point shot, and we weren't good enough to do it," UNC Asheville Coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "They are a very good basketball that doesn't beat themselves."

Asked to compare the Hoyas to No. 25 North Carolina, which held off the Bulldogs, 80-69, on Tuesday, Biedenbach said: "Right now, at this point, Georgetown is better. They shoot it better. Georgetown's guards are superior to North Carolina's guards. But I think [Tar Heels Coach] Roy Williams would tell you that."

If UNC Asheville had any chance of making a game of it, that opportunity seemed to present itself at the start of the second half after Matt Dickey cut the Hoyas' lead to 44-29 on the Bulldogs' first possession. But Georgetown responded with back-to-back three-pointers from Hollis Thompson (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Freeman, who was 11 of 15 overall from the floor and has connected on almost 58 percent (19 of 33) of his three-pointers this season.

"It was like NBA Live," Hoyas forward Julian Vaughn joked about Freeman's performance, referencing the video game.

Vaughn, meanwhile, has quietly put together a solid stretch of games since returning from an illness that kept him out against Tulane on Nov. 15. He posted his first career double-double against Wofford on Nov. 19 and collected a season-high 16 points and nine rebounds on Saturday. His best work, though, came at the defensive end, where he blocked three shots and altered countless others.

"I'm not focused on individual stats," Vaughn said when asked about being overshadowed by guards Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark. "We have a lot of explosive talent in the back court and we have to exploit it if we can. My main thing, mentally, before every game is going out, trying to rebound, block shots and be a presence."

Wright scored only three points but finished with nine assists, an effort that drew praise from Thompson. The senior point guard turned his right ankle early in the second half but later returned and said afterward that he expects to be fine.

"If you look at the stat sheet, [Wright] did a good job getting [Freeman] the ball," Thompson said. "Chris was able to suck the defense in to him and kick it out to open shooters,"

As a team, the Hoyas shot of 13 of 25 from three-point range. In six games, they've taken 43 percent or more of their shots for the game from behind the arc three times.

"We have an experienced enough group where they have a feel for, 'Okay we're taking too many threes,' " Thompson said. "I don't think many, if any of those, were bad shots today."

For most of the past game and a half, the Hoyas haven't been challenged.

That, however, is expected to change in the coming three weeks as the Hoyas take on No. 11 Missouri in Kansas City on Tuesday, play at No. 21 Temple on Dec. 9 and travel to No. 14 Memphis on Dec. 23.

"We're a work in progress," Thompson said. "We are growing. There's still a lot of room for growth in that locker room. It's important that we continue to get better, continue to have more guys that when put them in [the game], there won't be a drop off. I think we are slowly getting to that point."

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