We Are Georgetown: Hoyas to face Elon at the Verizon Center tonight

After a ten-day layoff for final exams, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-2, 0-0 Big East) will be back in action Tuesday night at Verizon Center, when they host Elon (5-5, 0-0 Southern) at 7:00 p.m.

Head Coach John Thompson III hopes his players do not underestimate Elon, the pre-season favorite to win the Southern Conference.

“(Elon’s) a tough team,” said Thompson. “They’re a veteran team. They have a post presence, they have perimeter guys who can put the ball in the basket… It’s a team that’s picked at the top of the league. It’s one of those teams you put on the schedule just to see where you are (as a team).”

The Hoyas will look to improve upon their five-game winning streak when they oppose the Phoenix, after unimpressively defeating Colgate in their last game 61-56. Against Colgate, the Hoyas failed to dictate the tempo and struggled on the offensive end, shooting a paltry 38 percent, including an abysmal 1-of-15 from three-point range.

Junior center Joshua Smith hopes to change that against Elon.

“We got to hit them first (on offense),” said Smith. “We got to let them know that they’re in our gym, that they’re playing us, and that we dictate what they do, not the other way around.”

Although they have been at inconsistent on offense at times, the Hoyas have prided themselves on their defensive effort in the early part of this season. The Blue and Gray are second in the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding their opponents to only 35 percent shooting. The Hoyas have especially stymied their opponents’ offenses in their last three matchups, holding Lipscomb, High Point, and Colgate to a combined 29 percent, with all failing to score more than 55 points.

However, Thompson still thinks his team can improve their defensive effort. “I always feel we can get better on the defensive end… Our defense, down through the years, has been pretty good. This group is getting there. We’re not there yet… Tomorrow, we’re going to have to protect the three-point line and protect the paint.”

Despite having won three of their last four games, Elon enters Tuesday’s night contest hoping to find their winning ways again after falling to No. 20 Colorado, 81-63 last Friday night. Senior forward Lucas Troutman leads the Phoenix in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Senior guard Sebastian Koch, the team’s leader in assists with 3.6 per game, and sophomore guard Tanner Samson both also average close to 13 points per game.

The Hoyas will surely have their hands full against the Phoenix. But with many Hoya fans anxiously awaiting Saturday’s highly anticipated matchup against No. 18 Kansas, Thompson expects his team’s focus to solely be on Elon.

“Our guys are usually focused on the next opponent… We’re not thinking about Kansas yet,” he said.

Things to Note: Monday’s practice marked the first time the whole team practiced together since the start of exams… When asked about recently dismissed Greg Whittington’s decision to transfer to Rutgers, Thompson simply said “I’m happy for Greg”… Georgetown and Elon last met on December 13, 2003 when the Hoyas routed the Phoenix 91-70. Then senior forward Gerald Riley scored 29 points in the affair… The Hoyas are 9-1 all-time against teams from the Southern Conference…. Elon is 0-11 all-time against teams from the Big East Conference…

Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice

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