The #11 Georgetown Hoyas fell to the Cincinnati tonight by a score of 68-64. Georgetown had control of the lead for the majority of the game, but fell to the Bearcats and their dynamic scorer, Sean Kilpatrick. The sophomore guard lit up the Hoyas for 27 points, complemented by 22 from his teammate, Dion Dixon. Hollis Thompson led the Hoyas with 14 points at halftime, but took just one shot the rest of the way. Jason Clark also added 14, while Nate Lubick provided quality rebounding down low, finishing with 8 boards.
Check out Dan Kellner’s recap of the loss over on the Voice website.
After riding an 11-game winning streak into Morgantown on Saturday, the Hoyas find themselves losers of two straight. Tonight had to hurt a little more, though, as the Blue and Gray held the lead until the two minute mark and had all the momentum of the Verizon Center crowd behind them. Head Coach John Thompson III blamed a number of unforced turnovers by the Hoyas, including three in the final four minutes as Cincinnati put the finishing touches on their comeback. Though the Hoyas held control of the lead for much of the game, they simply could not shut down Dixon in the first half or Kilpatrick in the second half. Both guards scored at will against whomever Georgetown threw at them, an unsettling trend for the Hoyas over the years.
More on Nate Lubick and the Hoyas’ second half struggles after the jump…
Lubick, often forgotten with Otto Porter’s electric play at power forward this season, stepped up in a big way for the Hoyas tonight. He went toe-to-toe with Bearcat big man Yancy Gates and came away with eight points and eight rebounds. More importantly, he was a force on the offensive glass and found open teammates time after time. Though Lubick was happy with his performance, it was overshadowed in his mind by the final score.
“I guess it was nice to come out and feel like my old self again,” the sophomore said. “But the way I am, I really only care about winning.”
Additionally, he connected with Porter on a number of plays in the second half, providing key passes as the Bearcats threw a number of different defensive looks at them. Henry Sims, who turned the ball over five times, desperately needed the help against a physical Bearcat frontline that produced 17 turnovers on the day. He received it from Lubick, who once again mirrored the confident big man Hoya fans were used to from his freshman year play. Thompson conceded that Lubick snapped a bad stretch with tonight’s game and was quite encouraged by the big man’s play.
“It’s good to see,” he said. “When you’ve had a bad stretch – and he has had a bad stretch – you start thinking, you start analyzing. I just think today he came out and played hard from the very beginning. He made a lot of hustle plays that turned into positives for us.”
Shutting Down the Offense
Though Sean Kilpatrick scored seemingly at will on the Hoyas in the second half, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin thought his defensive effort on Thompson made a significant impact, as the junior was held to just one shot in the second half after starting 5-5 from the field and 4-4 from three-point range. He and Clark were a combined 11-13 from the field, though combined they only took 5 shots in the second half. Cronin stated that his Bearcats made a concerted effort to shut Thompson down, a sentiment reflected by the Hoya head coach:
“We ran a couple of sets to try to get him shots, but they were definitely a lot more attentive to him in denying him and face guarding him in the second half and so that was a large part of it.”
As a team, Cincinnati constantly switched from man to zone coverage on the Hoyas, which seemed to throw everyone except Lubick and Otto Porter off for a period of time. It did, however, put the final nail in the coffin, as the Bearcats switched their defense again on the last play, forcing the Hoya offense to break down with Porter’s untimely turnover.
The Hoyas have a few days off before they head to New York City to take on the St. John’s Red Storm on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. According to Thompson and Clark, they need to rectify the turnover problem and restart their winning ways before losing starts to snowball on them.
“We can’t fall into the rhythm of losing,” Clark said. “We can’t start pointing fingers. We know what makes us good and we’ve got to get back to those things and continue to get better.”