The outcome was not in doubt once the Hoyas reeled off 24 unanswered points against the overwhelmed Panthers, who struggled to hang on to the ball in the face of pressure and were equally hapless putting it in the basket.
Only two questions hung in the balance: How lopsided would the final score be? And how hard would the Hoyas fight with victory all but assured?
The 92-57 rout thrilled the sparse crowd of 7,824. But Coach John Thompson III took more satisfaction from his team’s focus, effort and energy at both ends of the court after the previous week’s half-hearted stand at Kansas resulted in a 22-point defeat .
“This is one of the few games you go in halftime, and there’s not too many negative things you could say,” said Thompson, whose Hoyas held FIU to a mere five field goals in the first half and led 50-14 at the break.
Against FIU, Georgetown (8-3) bolted to a torrid pace against a squad that was missing three starters at the outset — including Louisville transfer Rakeem Buckles and Tymell Murphy, the top two scorers—who were held out for unspecified disciplinary reasons.
The punishment of Buckles and Murphy lasted three-and-a-half minutes and had no bearing on the runaway outcome.
Overall, the Hoyas did not trail and led by 39.
“Wasn’t much of a game,” said FIU Coach Anthony Evans, whose team fell to 8-6. “Georgetown came out, and they dominated from the very start. We didn’t play good defense; we didn’t have good energy. And they did what they were supposed to.”
It was Georgetown’s final game before the start of Big East play, with DePaul (8-5) due at Verizon Center on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. tip-off. And Thompson declared his team ready.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown’s leading scorer, missed his first start of the season because he was late returning from Christmas break, Thompson explained afterward.
In his stead, the Hoyas’ big men set the tone. Joshua Smith scored six of the team’s first 12 points and, after a nifty reverse by Jabril Trawick, who shouldered Smith-Rivera’s ball-handling duties early on, Georgetown took a 14-4 lead with 14 minutes 22 seconds remaining in the first half.
Smith-Rivera joined the lineup soon after.
The game plan stressed denying FIU second-chance points, given the Panthers’ knack for grabbing offensive rebounds. And the Hoyas hit the boards hard, outrebounding the Panthers 33-22.
Point guard Markel Starks supplied a first-half spark, hitting an early three-pointer and taking a hard fall when he was upended as he slashed to the basket.
At the opposite end, FIU’s shots only grew more desperate, peppered with air balls and layups that caromed off the backboard rather than the rim.
With FIU shooting under 10 percent (1 for 12 from the field), Georgetown extended its lead to 30-4. Buckles, who entered the game averaging a double-double (14.5 points, 10.4 rebounds), didn’t hit a shot until less than five minutes remained in the first half.
“We defended today, right from the get-go,” said senior forward Nate Lubick, who joined Starks and Smith-Rivera with a team-high 15 points. “We were able to create a lot of offense from our defense.”
With 7:04 remaining in the first half, FIU’s Jerome Frink stemmed Georgetown’s 24-0 run with a layup.
Leading 30-6, the Hoyas kept the pressure on.
Mikael Hopkins (seven points, six rebounds) got a terrific putback, drawing a foul in the process and completing the three-point play to put the Hoyas up 37-9. And Lubick took a charge and nailed a reverse.
Of Georgetown’s 50 first-half points, 30 were scored in the paint.
“They have a lot of options; that’s what makes it difficult,” said Evans, who came to FIU after six seasons at Norfolk State. “They can throw it inside to Smith, who’s a dominant player down there, once he gets around the basket. And when they’re knocking down three-point shots, you have to pick your poison.”