We Are Georgetown and You’re Not: Memphis

After falling to Kansas on Monday night, the Hoyas bounced back about twelve hours later, trouncing Division-II Chaminade by a score of 88-61 behind spectacular efforts from senior Jason Clark and freshman Otto Porter. Check out the full box score here.

There is no time for the Hoyas to rest however, as they face their toughest challenge in Maui today against the eighth-ranked Memphis. The Tigers may be even more tired, advancing to the finals of the Invitational’s consolation bracket with a thrilling 99-97 double overtime win against Tennessee. Today’s game will be both teams’ first look at each other since the Hoyas’ 86-69 victory at Memphis last season. It will not, however, be their only contest this season, as the teams have another game at the Verizon Center on December 22. Today’s matchup is slated for 5 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN2.

Pedal on the Gas

The one worry with this Georgetown team was that they could fall asleep against a lesser opponent after coming up so close against the vaunted Kansas Jayhawks. Though they started out a little sluggish against Chaminade, they eventually overpowered them through their shooting, as noted by Swords head coach Eric Bovaird:

Georgetown just shot the ball like crazy…Man, they have some guys that can really shoot the ball and that really flows into their offense. Clark is one of the quickest guys I’ve seen and Thompson is a pure shooter.

As the unquestioned leader of this team, Clark led the charge with 28 points on 10-12 shooting, hitting 6 of his 7 shots from beyond the arc. The other starters all had a hand in the dominant effort, including Henry Sims’ full stat-line of seven assists, two steals, and two blocks to go with eight points. Even with their contributions, this had to be considered Porter’s coming-out party, as he has integrated himself more seamlessly into the offense over his first four games as a Hoya.  The Missouri native turned a lot of heads with his career-high seventeen-point effort, pulling down a team-high seven rebounds in the process. Fellow freshmen Jabril Trawick and Mikael Hopkins saw a lot of playing time in the blowout and looked to be a lot more comfortable out on the floor. Overall, the Hoyas shot 57.9 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three for the game. Though they didn’t face the same frenetic defense they saw from Kansas, their sweet shooting put their four-point loss the night before in perspective – one or two more made shots and the Hoyas could be playing for the Championship today instead of the fifth place rank. That’s pretty impressive for such a young group and the basketball literati are really starting to take notice.


Memphis: Round One

The Tigers, coached by Josh Pastner, have relied on their youth and athleticism for quite some time. Against Tennessee, it helped them, but against Michigan a day before, their lack of experience hurt them greatly, jacking up twenty three-pointers in the loss. They are highly-touted for a reason, however, as they are led by two stellar guards, sophomore Will Barton and senior Wesley Witherspoon. Their team is loaded with athletes and Pastner has a deep rotation that he is still finding his way through; eight players contributed heavy minutes during their victory yesterday, with most of those minutes coming from bench players.

Keys for the Hoyas

Sims and Lubick stand tall: From the Michigan contest, it’s clear that Memphis will jack up threes if the interior defense presents no opportunities for them. Henry Sims and Nate Lubick are going to have to hold down the paint and not allow any easy buckets down low for the Tigers to produce another Memphis loss today. If they can make the Tigers a stand-still team and hide their athleticism with ill-advised threes, the Hoyas have a great shot at winning. Georgetown needs to make sure they control the pace of the game with their half-court sets. As they proved against Chaminade, the Hoyas have the shooters to dominate that type of battle.

Freshmen providing depth: Memphis, for all the talk of their youth and athleticism, is still coming off a draining, double-overtime effort. The Hoyas, meanwhile, were able to rest a number of their key players in yesterday’s blowout win, meaning they should have fresher legs going into the game. The real question is: Can the freshmen look as comfortable as they did against Chaminade? We fully expect Porter and Whittington to continue getting their regular minutes, but the key will be the effect that Trawick, Hopkins, and Tyler Adams have in providing depth for this team. If the Hoyas are going to continue their three-quarter court press and different zone schemes, they will need to throw as many bodies at the Tigers as possible, while not adversely affecting them in their offensive sets.

Predictions

Kevin Joseph, Sports Editor: I have a hard time envisioning the Hoyas walking away from this tournament without a signature win. They were motivated to get it against Kansas but came up just short and that will fuel them in this game. Look for Thompson and Clark to establish themselves early and often. The Tigers are athletic and long, but simply don’t clog the paint like the Jayhawks did, so the two guards will have plenty of room to create. This could be the game where Trawick establishes himself as a lock-down defender for this team – the matchups just present good opportunities for him. 74-68 Hoyas.

Jackson Perry, Blog Editor: Memphis may have played through two overtimes yesterday, but I still think the length of the Tigers will poke enough holes in the Georgetown defense that this game could turn into a shoot-out. We’ve seen enough Hoya squads over the last four years have opportunities to get great wins and suddenly go cold from the floor for long stretches of the game. We saw it against Kansas. Putting the onus on a very young defense, playing their third game in as many days, to bottle up the game won’t work. Another big game from Clark is the best chance for the Hoyas, and he’s never topped 18 points in two straight games in his career.  79-71 Memphis

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