Georgetown vs. Appalachian State: Hoyas basketball cruises to biggest margin of victory of season

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 12:04 AM

When Appalachian State's Donald Sims hit a driving layup as time expired in the first half, Georgetown's once formidable lead suddenly was whittled to single digits.

That, however, was as close as the Hoyas' trio of standout guards permitted the Mountaineers to come to a potential upset.

In a span of about three minutes to start the second half, Chris Wright dished out two of his game-high 12 assists, Austin Freeman scored two powerful layups and Jason Clark engineered a pair of defensive stops on Sims. A nine-point lead quickly became a 15-point edge, and the ninth-ranked Hoyas cruised to their most lopsided victory of the season, 89-60, at Verizon Center.

"We said this to [the guards] after last game, [the media] is all going to talk about them scoring points," Coach John Thompson III said. "But they also have to lead us in everything else. They have to lead us in hustle plays, lead us in boxing out and getting on the floor. At the start of the second half, the three of them did that, and that's what gave us our boost and our push."

Thompson said the Hoyas (9-1) worked almost exclusively on defense since their 68-65 loss at Temple on Thursday. The result of those two grueling days of practice was obvious against Sims and Appalachian State (3-4).

Sims entered the game ranked second in the nation in scoring average (27 points per game) but finished with only 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting, which included 0 for 5 from beyond the three-point arc. Georgetown's defensive effort on Sims was spearheaded by Clark, who helped limit the 6-foot-1 senior to only two baskets in the first half and keep him under 18 points for the first time this season. Sims also finished without a three-pointer for only the second time in two seasons.

"When you have the size and length they have, [Sims] didn't have a lot of driving lanes. He had a rough day offensively," Mountaineers Coach Jason Capel said.

Clark was also important at the offensive end of the floor. The junior scored a game-high 15 points for the Hoyas, who shot 72.4 percent from the field in the second half and had a season-high 13 players record at least two points. The teams' 27 assists tied the most of Thompson's tenure.

But as impressed as Capel was with Clark's performance, he was even more so with Wright, who equaled his career high for assists, including three that might make the highlights.

The first was an over-the-shoulder pass to Clark for a layup in the first half that pushed Georgetown's lead to 16-5. The next two came during the Hoyas' decisive run at the start of the second half. Wright made a behind-the-back bounce pass to Freeman, then about two minutes later, threaded a long bounce pass through the lane to Freeman, who scored a layup to make it 47-32 and, in effect, put the game out of the visitors' reach.

"It all starts with Chris Wright," Capel said. "He came out and really set the tone for the game without really scoring."

Said Wright: "I'm not trying to play flashy. I'm just trying to make the right reads and those are the passes I made."

Freeman finished with 14 points for the second straight contest, but again was cold from three-point range, missing all three of his attempts. In the past three games, the Hoyas' leading scorer is 1 for 10 from long range.

On Sunday, though, Georgetown's reserves provided alternate sources of scoring.

The Hoyas' four freshmen shot a combined 8 for 10 from the floor and 5 for 5 from the free throw line. The key contributor was Nate Lubick, who notched a career-high 11 points and ignited the crowd of 8,765 with a pair of dunks midway through the second half.

Nate "was aggressive and we need Nate Lubick to be aggressive," Thompson said. "He also threw a couple of passes that a lot of freshmen don't see."

Moses Ayegba, meanwhile, made his Georgetown debut. When the 6-foot-8 Nigerian pulled off his warmups and checked into the game, the entire arena erupted into cheers, as much out of sympathy for his plight as anxiousness to see him play. Ayegba was suspended the first nine games of the season by the NCAA for accepting a plane ticket purchased from someone outside of his family.

Although he played only two minutes, Ayegba made a pretty move down low to convert on his only shot attempt. Then he drew a foul moments later and sank two smooth-looking free throws and finished with four points.

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