The Georgetown Hoyas won their seventh straight game today (9-1), taking down American University 81-55 at the Verizon Center. The Eagles stayed within five points of the Hoyas at halftime, but Georgetown outscored them by 20 in the second half to blow the game open. Markel Starks scored a career-high 18 points in the effort. Henry Sims added 17 points and 6 assists, Otto Porter contributed 10 rebounds, and Hollis Thompson scored 15 points to go along with 8 rebounds of his own.
Tale of Two Halves
Sims started out fairly slowly in the first half, as did the Georgetown offense. Starks paced the Hoyas with his three-point shooting in the first half, hitting three straight to keep the Hoyas above water at halftime. In the second half, however, the Hoyas blew the game wide open, a growing trend over the past few games. Coach John Thompson III credited a half-time adjustment by Hollis Thompson, who noted that the Hoyas were not being patient enough with their cuts.
“I think in the first half, offensively we were going side-to-side too much”, the coach said of his stagnant offense. “We talked at halftime that we needed to cut more, we were settling for threes. At halftime we decided to start cutting more and it was open late, so that was basically it.”
Sims benefited most from the adjustments, contributing 13 points and all 6 of his assists after the break. Time and time again, he found his teammates cutting to the basket for easy layups, opening up opportunities for himself later on in the game. Thompson acknowledged the effort, but thought Sims’ greater contribution was on the defensive end, where they produced ten turnovers.
“He was best today at his communication on defense”, Thompson noted of his senior. “He was outstanding – I think that’s what he did better than anything else.”
More on the Hoyas’ improvements and Jeff Green after the jump..
Freshman Otto Porter has quickly established himself as Georgetown’s best rebounder. In 22 minutes of action, he pulled down ten rebounds to complement Thompson’s eight. Porter, Greg Whittington, and Jabril Trawick all saw extended minutes, mostly because of their strong defense. Thompson noted Trawick’s performance specifically, referring to his play and Thompson’s rebounding as momentum changers in the game.
Meanwhile, Starks continued to show off his improved shooting touch this season, going 4-6 from three-point range. He said that he felt loose today and knew it was going to be a good day. As for this group as a whole, the point guard feels that his team will improve much more over the remainder of the season.
“This is a confident group”, the sophomore said. “We just needed to come out a little more aggressive, we were able to get stops and get points as well, but moving forward we’re just going to keep getting better.”
Get Well Soon, Jeff
Jeff Green, the former Hoya who led the team to the 2007 Final Four, will miss the entirety of the 2011-2012 NBA season as he undergoes a procedure to repair an aortic aneurysm. The current Boston Celtic confided in Thompson over the process, which started after a routine physical. Green’s former coach was quite somber about Green’s heart situation, but is confident that Green’s strength will get him through the process and back on the court.
“Obviously, Jeff is a part of who we are. He’s as upbeat as anyone can be as it relates to what goes along with that”, Thompson stated. “It’s been a trying week and I’ve seen the progression from terrified to confident. Our prayers are with him, but he’s strong.”
The Hoyas return to the Verizon Center on Thursday for their second matchup with a now-unranked Memphis team. The Tigers were ranked eighth in the country when the Hoyas defeated them in overtime, 91-88, during the Maui Invitational. The 7 PM game will be the Hoyas’ last before Christmas. After the holiday, Georgetown will begin the Big East schedule, starting with a matchup on December 28 in Louisville versus the Cardinals. As always – join us on Vox as we liveblog the Memphis game.
Photos: Lucia He