If Jamorko Pickett had a tagline ascribed to his offense through these first two games of Georgetown’s season, it could be “quality over quantity.”
Case in point: The catch-and-shoot three-pointer that brought Hoyas fans to their feet late in the second half Saturday was just the sharpshooter’s fifth attempted field goal of an up-and-down contest Georgetown won, 85-78, over Central Connecticut State. But it came at just the right time — with 5:28 to play and the Hoyas nursing a two-point lead.
Pickett’s three energized the announced crowd of 5,270 at Capital One Arena and injected some life into the Hoyas. Senior center Jessie Govan hit his second three of the game on the next possession, and Pickett added two more three-pointers down the stretch, making him 4 for 7 from beyond the arc. He didn’t attempt any two-point shots, nor did he get to the free throw line.
Govan led the Hoyas (2-0) with 26 points and eight rebounds, but Pickett’s play was key, and Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing had nothing but praise for his sophomore swingman afterward.
“He played great. He played great today,” Ewing said. “One of the things I told him after the game today is he showed me today that he’s growing. Because in practice this year, in games last year when things are not going well for him, he’ll put his head down and pout, and today he didn’t. . . . He was on their best player, so he had to exert himself, but he made shots for us when he needed him to make shots.”
Pickett finished with 12 points and, just as significantly in Ewing’s mind, played the best defensive game of his career, holding Blue Devils leading scorer Tyler Kohl to 19 points, 11 fewer than he scored in the season opener.
Georgetown built an 11-point lead at halftime but was never fully in control of the game, and the Blue Devils (1-1) rallied late behind Ian Krishnan (28 points) to get within two points twice in the final six minutes before Georgetown finally tightened on defense.
James Akinjo had 13 points for the Hoyas, and Trey Mourning added 12.
Ewing gave Pickett plenty of credit for helping out on defense after intermission in addition to lauding his offensive spark.
The second-year coach sees growth in the sophomore, but questions remain about his shot selection. Ewing’s primary critique of Pickett last season was that he took too many three-pointers — last season he fired from beyond the arc 157 times to just 105 two-point shots. Through two games this season, Pickett has shot 8 for 12 from the field and has made just one two-point basket.
Pickett’s goal this season was to become a more well-rounded player. Over the summer he worked on ballhandling and attacking the rim.
“I improved a lot,” Pickett said after the season opener. “I took more threes than I should have, but they were good shots, shots that I know I could knock down. But my game has definitely improved a lot. I can rebound more, attack the basket, make smart decisions coming off screens.”
At 6-foot-8 and with his shooting talent — it helps that he added muscle in the offseason — Pickett has the potential to be a difference-maker. Blue Devils Coach Donyell Marshall compared Pickett to the type of player he was at Connecticut: “He’s very difficult because you don’t have a lot of guys that size. Even in the Big East, you don’t have guys like that playing the three.”
Ewing and Pickett know that the sophomore must expand his game both for Georgetown’s sake and for Pickett’s career prospects. So far, Ewing is just fine with the rate of progress.
“He can’t think of himself as just a three-point shooter if he wants to make a jump to the next level. He has to be able to do all of the things,” Ewing said. “Today he showed that he could play defense. Last year he didn’t. He showed that he can play defense, move his feet and use his length to affect shots. He blocked a couple shots today. He can do a lot of things. He’s not just a three-point shooter. . . . He has to learn how to do it.”
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