But seriously—Vox is driving up to the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Maps application on our iPhone 5 is pretty horrendous. Either way, the Georgetown Hoyas (2-0, 0-0 Big East) have quite the matchup tonight against No. 13 UCLA (3-0), as they face their highest ranked opponent of the young season in the Progessive Legends Classic. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. We will be covering the game live, as always, so be sure to follow along on Twitter.
Thanks to the NCAA, the matchup will be a lot tougher than anticipated. After a three-game suspension, the Bruins No. 2 recruit, freshman forward Shabazz Muhammad, will be unleashed on the Hoyas tonight. ESPN describes 6-foot-6 small forward as a “chiseled left-hander” who attacks the hoop “with a vengeance.” After facing undersized Liberty and Duquesne forwards in their first two games, sophomore Greg Whittington and the Hoyas will face their biggest challenge of the year. Combine Muhammad’s penetrating ability with post presences like the burly Tony Parker, and Georgetown’s fate tonight rests with big men like sophomore Mikael Hopkins and junior Nate Lubick.
“I’m an undersized big man,” Hopkins said. “I have been that my whole life. I have to use the things that God has given me to succeed in this game. I have to use my quickness and athleticism to fight around big guys, not let them get deep in post position.”
The news about Muhammad is good for a UCLA team which has slightly underperformed this year. Even though the Bruins blew out James Madison and Indiana State, they had to go to overtime to defeat UC Irvine, 80-79, on Tuesday. UCLA certainly doesn’t lack any explosiveness on offense, though, as they rank 13th in the country in points per game this year with 88.7 points per game.
“Watching them a couple times this far this season, they are a tough team,” Lubick said. “Coach [Ben] Howland has been a great defensive coach down the years, but they have some offensive firepower this year.”
Although all eyes will be on Muhammad, UCLA appears to have already found a star in freshman guard Jordan Adams. Adams has averaged 24 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game so far this year. In addition to shutting down Muhammad, shutting down Adams will definitely be key for the Hoyas. UC Irvine had a fighting chance against UCLA partially because Adams was held to a season-low 41.7 field goal percentage. The Hoyas have some work to do here, as they struggled mightily closing out Liberty’s shooters, allowing them to shoot 52 percent from three-point range last Wednesday.
Adams and Muhammad are two of UCLA’s four ESPN Top 100 recruits for this year. The two other recruits forward Kyle Anderson and Parker have averaged 7.3 ppg and 6.7 ppg respectively so far this year. Anderson, however, has been a beast on the boards, leading the Bruins with 9.7 rebounds per game.
Besides Adams, the Bruins have another threat in the backcourt, junior guard Norman Powell, who has scored 12.7 ppg this year. Muhammad will join the Wear twins, David and Travis, in the post, recording 12 and 11.7 ppg respectively.
Georgetown expects that star sophomore Otto Porter Jr.will be back in action tonight after missing last Wednesday’s victory as he recovered from a mild concussion. If the Hoyas are to pull off the upset tonight, it’s expected that they will face the top team in the nation, Indiana, on Tuesday night.
Additional reporting by Keaton Hoffman and Kevin Joseph
Photo: Dan LaMagna