The go-ahead basket during the second half of the Georgetown-Vanderbilt men's basketball game was a dunk that came off of a perfectly executed back-door cut -- a play that has become very familiar to Hoyas observers.
But yesterday afternoon, the Commodores' Alex Gordon was making the pass, and Shan Foster was finishing the play with the dunk. And it was Vanderbilt that came away with a 68-61 victory in front of 7,526 at MCI Center.
Both teams run variations of the Princeton-style motion offense, though Georgetown Coach John Thompson III has grown tired of the constant references to his alma mater. "We are Georgetown, and we run the Georgetown offense," he said. Vanderbilt (4-0) did a better job of turning its open looks into baskets than the Hoyas (2-1).
"There's very little that they did that we didn't know was coming," said Thompson, whose team will travel to Oregon next weekend. "There was very little that we did that they probably didn't know was coming. It just comes down to focus, execution and making shots. I think we did execute. The ball didn't go in."
The Hoyas shot only 34.6 percent in the second half, and as they struggled to make shots at one end of the court, their defense became more porous at the other end. Vanderbilt made 59.1 percent of its second-half shots, and for the game, the Commodores converted 8 of 13 three-point attempts.
Georgetown's 7-foot-2 sophomore, Roy Hibbert -- who dominated the first two games (an average of 21.5 points) -- was never really a factor. Ted Skuchas, a 6-11, 250-pound Vanderbilt junior, was physical from the start with Hibbert, who missed his first four shots. Then Hibbert (six points) was in foul trouble, and he was limited to 13 minutes.
Foster scored 20 points to lead the Commodores. The Hoyas knew the 6-6 sophomore was capable of making long-range shots, but Foster still managed to find ways to get his shot off. He made 5 of 8 shots from beyond the arc.
"Hopefully, we can learn that lesson: If you've got guys that you know can make shots, you can't let him get shots," Thompson said. "It's not rocket science. The kid can put the ball in the basket. You have to be on him on the catch; you can't go underneath screens when you check him; you can't foul him when he's shooting threes."
Georgetown was dominant during the first 20 minutes of its home opener. Eleven of the Hoyas' 15 first-half baskets came off of layups or dunks. Senior Brandon Bowman (12 points) sliced through the Vanderbilt defense for easy baskets, and sophomore Jeff Green (14 points) scored in transition.
"It's like guarding ourselves every day in practice," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. "We didn't want to make a lot of adjustments because our guys should know how to defend this stuff. But Bowman's quickness and Green's ability to shot fake and get by us kept hurting us in the first half."
As did the Hoyas' defense. During one first half stretch, Georgetown forced turnovers on five straight Vanderbilt possessions and turned them into eight points. That run was capped by a nice fast break that started with a Bowman steal and ended with Darrel Owens forgoing a layup and tossing a little alley-oop instead to Green. The Hoyas led 33-20 with 4 minutes 25 seconds left before halftime.
Georgetown held a seven-point edge at the break, but the Commodores wiped that out in the first five minutes of the second half. When Foster scored on the back-door dunk, Vanderbilt held its first lead of the game, 41-39, with 15:28 remaining.
The Commodores did a better job of taking away the drive, so the Hoyas were forced to kick the ball outside for shots. Georgetown took 15 three-point shots in the second half -- and had some wide-open looks -- but made only four of them.
"We run the same plays, so it's kind of easy to know what we run," said Green, who also had three assists and four blocked shots. "It's kind of easy for them to defend it. In the first half, the dunks and layups came on transition, and we didn't get enough of them in the second half."