When: Noon. Where: Verizon Center.
TV: Fox Sports 1 . Radio: WTEM-980.
Records: Hoyas 7-3; Golden Panthers 8-5 .
Anchored by a 6-foot-10 center and 6-8 forward and with a pair of 6-9 reserves standing by, Georgetown’s front court ought to dominate opponents. But as the Hoyas’ nonconference slate draws to a close, the squad’s big men remain a work in progress.
For stretches, starters Joshua Smith and Nate Lubick and backups Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba have manhandled their rivals in the paint. In other stretches, they’ve piled up too many fouls — while grabbing too few rebounds — to have the impact their big bodies suggest.
Last Saturday’s 86-64 loss at Kansas was a case in point. Smith and Lubick were constrained by foul trouble almost from the outset, and both ultimately fouled out along with Ayegba. The Jayhawks’ 46 free throw attempts (they made 31 ) were the most by a Kansas team in nearly six years. The Jayhawks also outrebounded Georgetown 39-29.
The game was more lopsided than the score suggests. After closing the first half on a 29-13 run, during which the Hoyas went scoreless for more than 10 minutes, Kansas raced to a 28-point lead in the second half. Apart from the starting back court of Markel Starks, who led all players with 19 points , and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, no Hoya played more than 22 minutes.
“That was as poor of a game as we have played in some time,” Coach John Thompson III said Friday, citing the need for more consistency in the front court. “Across the board, we have to play better top to bottom than we did out there.”
The atmosphere for the Hoyas’ return to Verizon Center against Florida International won’t come close to the ear-splitting din of 16,300 screaming Jayhawks fans at Allen Fieldhouse. But Georgetown could use the boost with Big East play beginning on New Year’s Eve, when DePaul visits Verizon Center.
FIU is coached by Anthony Evans, who was tapped after six years at Norfolk State when Richard Pitino was plucked for the head job at Minnesota after one winning season. Forward Rakeem Buckles is averaging a double-double (14.5 points, 10.4 rebounds).
— Liz Clarke