We Are Georgetown: We’re not at the Verizon Center anymore
LAWRENCE, KANSAS—Vox is coming to you from the heart of Jayhawk country, in Lawrence, as the Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-2, 0-0 Big East) readies itself to face No. 18 Kansas (7-3, 0-0 Big 12) inside famed Allen Fieldhouse Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Although students have finished their final exams, this will be an intriguing test in a hostile environment for the Hoyas, as they prepare themselves for Big East conference play in less than 10 days.
Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III thinks Kansas stands as a tremendous challenge for his team.
“They’re a very good team. They’re one of the more talented teams in the country,” said Thompson. “They have one of the better coaches in the country. They have one of the more difficult venues in the country to play. So, there are a lot of challenges.”
Many of the Hoyas, including senior forward Nate Lubick, see this as an opportunity for a statement game.
“It’s a great test for us before we get started for league play,” said Lubick. “How well we deal with this should be able to set the bar for the rest of our season.”
The Hoyas will have their hands full against a very talented Kansas team, who, early in the season, rose as high as No. 2 in the country. At the center of attention for the Blue and Gray will be Kansas freshman guard, Andrew Wiggins, ranked as the number one freshman in the country entering this season as well as a projected number one pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The leading scorer for the Jayhawks, Wiggins averages 15.9 points per game on 48 percent shooting.
“He’s a terrific player. He’s big. He’s versatile,” said Thompson. “He can do a lot of different things. He’s not just on the perimeters. He can go inside and his athleticism is superior. He’s a good player.
However, Georgetown sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera does not buy into all the hype surrounding Wiggins.
“He’s athletic. He’s really gifted. He has a lot of intangibles that a lot of other players don’t have,” said Smith-Rivera. “With that said, he’s also a freshman. I don’t see him as superior to anybody on our team, especially myself. Going into this game, that’s obviously something we have to prove. No disrespect to him, but we have guys on our team as well.”
The Jayhawks also possess a potent frontcourt, with sophomore forward Perry Ellis and 7’0” freshman center Joel Embiid a leading the way. Ellis averages 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Embiid averages 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds, as well as 2.4 blocks. This could create potential problems for the Hoyas, as they were outrebounded by substantially smaller Elon in their previous game.
Lubick sees rebounding, especially, as a major key for the Hoyas, if they want to have any chance of leaving Allen Fieldhouse with a win.
“That’s going to be the game,” said Lubick. “It’s a point of emphasis every day in practice, every single game… This is a big boy’s game.”
Although one could argue that both teams share similar talent levels, the Jayhawks possess one major advantage over the Hoyas: Allen Fieldhouse. Labeled as one of the toughest places to play in all of college basketball, the Jayhawks are 110-2 (you read that right) in their last 112 games there.
“Their fans are terrific. They’re right on top of you,” said Thompson. “It’s a loud environment. And so I always say, when our building is crowded, it’s tangible. It’s worth points on offense and stops on defense. I’m sure they would say the same thing.”
Be sure to stay tuned to Vox, as well as follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter, during the next 24 hours for all things Georgetown-Kansas, as well as details of our escapade in Kansas.
The Final Whistle: This will be the first of four matchups in the coming years between the Hoyas and Jayhawks. Both schools signed a four-year contract to play each other annually in October 2012. Georgetown will return to Allen Fieldhouse in the 2015-2016 campaign. Kansas will visit Verizon Center next season and during 2016-2017… Georgetown is 1-1 all-time against Kansas. They last met on November 21, 2011 in the Maui Invitational, where the Jayhawks prevailed 67-63… Nate Lubick and Kansas junior guard Nadir Thorpe played AAU together from the fourth grade until high school…Georgetown is 30-28 all-time against schools from the Big 12 Conference.
Photo: Andres Rengifo/Georgetown Voice