Postgame Roundup: Kansas drubs Georgetown

In their biggest game of the season so far, a game many Blue and Gray fans had highly anticipated for over a year, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-3, 0-0 Big East) failed to impress on the road against No. 18 Kansas, (8-3, 0-0 Big 12) losing in blowout fashion, 86-64. Foul trouble and an overwhelming Kansas frontcourt plagued the Hoyas throughout the game, in their worst road loss under Head Coach John Thompson III’s coaching tenure.

Thompson didn’t think his team played tough enough to win.

“I thought we were the farthest thing (from being physical). We have to be an aggressive team in general,” said Thompson. “I think that if you look at the game, we didn’t make enough other physical plays. When I say that, I mean a good box-out. When I say that, I mean ‘it’s a loose ball, we have to be the ones who aggressively go after it and come up with the 50-50 balls.’ I don’t think we were physical tonight at all. We slapped and fouled, but we weren’t physical.”

Senior forward Nate Lubick expressed his disappointment with the team’s effort.

“Obviously, we didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game,” said Lubick. “This is a storied program, storied arena, and we didn’t make the type of plays with our frontcourt that you needed to make to come and win a game here.”

The Kansas frontcourt of freshman center Joel Embiid and senior forward Tarik Black dominated the Georgetown frontline, with both scoring a game-high 17 points. Both players did not miss a field goal the whole game, connecting on all nine of their attempts, and excelled at the free-throw line, shooting 16-of-21 combined.

Thompson had nothing but praise for both players, especially Embiid.

“He’s pretty good. He’s pretty good,” said Thompson. “You see, just having watched all of their games, not only he is pretty good, he must be pretty smart because he’s getting better and better with each game. I think he has a chance to be a special player.”

The Hoyas took it to the Jayhawks from the opening tip, jumping out to a 23-17 lead eight minutes into the first half. Yet, they couldn’t sustain it as Lubick, junior center Joshua Smith, junior guard Jabril Trawick, junior forward Mikael Hopkins, and senior center Moses Ayegba all found themselves in foul trouble early, causing Thompson to go very deep into his bench. Kansas took advantage of Georgetown’s lack of depth, finishing the first half on a 27-11 run to go into halftime with a 44-34 lead.

“We stopped executing,” said Thompson. “There was a stretch till the end of the first half where we didn’t make them work on defense. We were settling for 1-2 passes and then a quick shot.”

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self thought his team settled in on defense, attributing their success to their deep preparation for Georgetown’s unique offense.

“We just guarded them better,” said Self. “Our scout team did a great job of running their stuff. We had a week to prepare. We guarded their stuff for four days. The whole thing with (Georgetown) is: don’t give up threes and don’t give up layups off back-cuts. We gave up zero back-cuts and gave up four threes. That’s pretty good for us. To start the game, we acted like were nervous about being aggressive because we were scared they were going to back-cut us. I thought the first 8-9 minutes we were terrible defensively. Then I thought we got pretty good. Last 30 minutes, we guarded them pretty well.”

In the second half, the Jayhawks continued their strong play, as the game grew quickly out hand. The Hoyas had difficulty containing the Jayhawks on the offensive glass, which demonstrated itself emphatically when Embiid dunked home an offensive rebound in mid-air, dejecting the Hoyas and further invigorating the frenzied Allen Fieldhouse.

“All the credit goes to them. They made it tough for us to get rebounds,” said Lubick. “But a lot of that comes down to us. We didn’t come ready to rebound. We didn’t come ready to fight. That’s why they won the game.”

Although the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse, which was measured at 111 dB at one point, created a tremendous homecourt advantage for the Jayhawks, Thompson thinks it didn’t play a significant factor.

“This venue is storied. Their fans are terrific. They’re here early. They’re loud,” said Thompson. “But that being said, it wasn’t the venue or the fans, it was the guys on the other bench that I thought played at a high level today.

Despite the loss, Thompson hopes his team can learn from the experience.

“I think you can be lazy and say, ‘Let’s just forget that game and move on,” said Thompson. “We’re not going to do that. We have to do some introspection and look across the board at how we do things and what we do. One game is not a season maker obviously. But at the same time, there a lot of things that we have to take away from this game if we are going to have the success that we plan on having in our conference play.”

Self thinks Georgetown will be a good team this year, but diagnosed one problem for the Blue and Gray.

“I think the one thing that they probably do not have, that they’ve had maybe in recent memory, is a lottery pick type player,” said Self. “Whether that be Greg Monroe or Otto Porter, they just don’t have a guy like that. But to me, all the other pieces are very comparable. They’re going to having a good year. There’s no question about that.”

Despite a blowout in the first of four games between the two schools in the next four years. Self thinks playing Georgetown brings a lot of benefits.

“I think it will be a good series for us. I hope it is for them,” said Self. “For us, we get a chance to go to D.C. and experience something that we haven’t. It also maybe will help us recruit a bit on the East Coast. I think anytime you schedule Georgetown with that name, it’s always positive.”

The Hoyas will look to rebound from the loss after Christmas, when they return to the friendlier confines of Verizon Center on December 28th to face FIU (8-5, 0-0 Conference USA). It will be the last game for the Hoyas before they start Big East play against DePaul on New Year’s Eve.

Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice

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