In game two of a four-game homestand, Georgetown hosts Longwood. Obviously Monday night's on-paper matchup does not suggest epic struggle -- the Big East's Hoyas are 7-1, the Big South's Lancers 2-6 -- , though considering the Hoyas laboring offense of late, who knows.
Yes, John Thompson III's squad has won four straight, the latest triumph coming in Saturday's 46-40 unexpected tussle with Towson. Yes, the No. 15 Hoyas (the rank likely jumps when the new poll comes out this afternoon) posted more points than they did in the recent 37-36 victory over Tennessee. They also shot a lower percentage from the field after an inexplicably horrid display in the first half.
Georgetown finished the opening 20 minutes 5 of 30 ---yes, math majors, that's 16.7 percent --- and needed to make half of its final six shots to get there. Somehow the Hoyas actually led at halftime by an unsightly 17-15 score. Even with a 50 percent effort (9 of 18) clip during the second half, the Hoyas clocked in at a clanking 29.2 percent and never could tame the Tigers until the final minutes.
Defensively the Hoyas took care of business in both games, but the two offensively-challenged contests were not bookend performances in the eyes of the Georgetown coach.
"I felt this was much different than the Tennessee game, because against Tennessee we were getting point blank shots that weren’t going in," Thompson said following the win over Towson. "Today our flow wasn’t as good as it needed to be in both halves."
Greg Whittington led the Hoyas against Towson with 11 points, but shot 4 of 13 overall and missed four of five 3-point attempts. Whether it's because of flow or not, the sophomore's shooting touch has been absent of late, including the Hoyas 23-point win over Texas - the one game in this stretch not played at the Verizon Center. Still trying to harness his many scoring gifts, the lengthy 6-foot-8 forward has shot 30.3 percent (10 of 33) from the field and only 2 of 12 from beyond the arc over the last three games.
"We're not necessarily trying to focus on Greg Whittington shooting the ball or Greg Whittington driving to the basket or Greg Whittington on post ups," Thompson said recently. "He's got to do it all for his sake and for ours."
Against Towson, Whittington, the Hoyas leading rebounder and defensive stalwart, was hardly the lone culprit. Other than Nate Lubick, none of the other seven players made at least half of their shots. The misses are also not simply coming from the field. Georgetown finished 16 of 24 from the free throw line on Saturday. On the season three of its top four scorers, including All-American candidate Otto Porter, are shooting less than 60 percent.
Speaking of seven players, this brings us to the next reason worth watching the matchup (7:00 p.m. tipoff) against the Lancers: Georgetown's depth remains a concern. Saturday's game was the latest in which the coach passed on dipping deeper into his bench beyond guards Jabril Trawick and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, not even for a literal minute. Ideally Thompson uses the first-ever meeting against Longwood -- plus upcoming games against Western Carolina and American -- to get freshmen Stephen Domingo and Bradley Hayes, plus juniors Moses Ayegba and Aaron Bowen on the court. Considering the grinding nature of the Big East schedule - which starts for Georgetown Jan. 5 at Marquette - not to mention foul trouble and injuries, the Hoyas bench will be called into action one way or another one regardless of inexperience or uncertainty.