Two days earlier, the Georgetown men’s basketball team allowed a lesser opponent to hang around into the second half. On Monday, the Hoyas weren’t so patient.
Behind a barrage of three-pointers from junior swingman Hollis Thompson and an inspired effort at both ends of the floor by senior captain Jason Clark, they raced to a 25-point edge at halftime and cruised to an 86-45 victory over UNC Greensboro in a mainland game of the Maui Invitational.
“That’s what we’ve been wanting to do, that’s what we’ve been stressing, those first couple of minutes, just to go out there and set the tone,” Clark said. “We’ve been stressing that in practice so we wanted to carry it over into our games.”
Thompson made five of his six attempts from behind the arc and finished with a game-high 19 points in front of a Verizon Center crowd of 7,987 that included former Hoyas and current NBA standouts Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. Clark, meanwhile, had 17 points (on 7-of-18 shooting), five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
At the other end of the floor, the Hoyas’ relentless defense forced the overwhelmed Spartans into rushed shots and poor shot selection. As a result, the visitors shot an anemic 29.6 percent from the floor and committed 22 turnovers. It was lowest point total for a Georgetown opponent since Savannah State was limited to 44 points in 2009.
“They’re frenzied defensively,” Greensboro Coach Mike Dement said. “They really get after the ball when you catch it and they took it out of our hands. That’s Big East basketball.”
Georgetown improved to 2-0 and is off until Monday, when the Hoyas will face their first real test of the young season against No. 12 Kansas in Hawaii. Greensboro, meantime, fell to 0-2 on the season, 0-5 all-time against Big East competition. It will play next in the mainland portion of the Maui Invitational this weekend in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Georgetown’s thorough effort against the Spartans sends the team off to Hawaii with plenty of confidence. The Hoyas played with more energy and determination at both ends in the first half than they displayed in the jittery opening minutes of Saturday’s season-opening 83-54 victory over Savannah State.
On Monday, the Hoyas opened a 41-16 lead at halftime that could have been more lopsided had they been more efficient at the offensive end. They shot 38.2 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
With the game under control early, Thompson played his touted freshmen more. And, once again, they looked strong as a group.
Mikael Hopkins had six points and six rebounds, Jabril Trawick had six points and a pair of assists and Otto Porter scored five points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Greg Whittington, meanwhile, had six rebounds and Tyler Adams played seven minutes despite a sprained ankle that kept him out of Saturday’s opener.
“They are going to play extended minutes, regardless of who the opponent is,” Thompson said before saying of Adams: “He’s in a little bit of pain. But he felt good enough to go, so we wanted to get him out there and get the jitters over with for him.”
What pleased the coach most, though, was the focus his team showed from the opening tip.
“Our guys played hard,” he said. “I think there was a focus for all 40 minutes, regardless of who was in [the game] or who wasn’t in, which is needed.”