During a week when its basketball future dominated the headlines, No. 15 Georgetown avoided distraction on the court Saturday afternoon, downing Western Carolina 81-68. Yet concentrating on immediately recapping the Hoyas sixth straight victory became impossible on a day Georgetown and the other basketball-only Big East programs announced they were leaving the conference.
Regardless, the Hoyas (9-1) did what was necessary for a relatively comfortable win against the 3-point making Catamounts, surging ahead by 26 points in the second half before letting the visitors creep back late.
Greg Whittington breaking out of a scoring slump certainly helped the cause. Whittington's double-double included a career-high 25 rebounds and 11 rebounds, and Jabril Trawick notched a personal-best with 14 points. The Hoyas offense consistently made shots in the second half especially during a 24-8 run.
Whittington, who entered shooting 14 of 45 (31.1 percent) over his previous four games, made 8 of 12 shots including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Otto Porter had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Markel Starks finished with 10 points and four steals for the Hoyas, who committed only nine turnovers.
Georgetown took the lead for good at 20-18 on Whittington's layup midway through the first half and sported its largest lead at 66-40 with 11:24 remaining on a Starks basket. From there the lead never dipped below 12 points.
Tom Tankelewicz led the Catamounts (4-7) with 24 points on six 3-pointers, five coming in the first half.
*While Whittington's offensive revival was welcomed, receiving an aggressive scoring day from his fellow sophomore Trawick perhaps counts as Georgetown's most intriguing on-court revelation. The 6-foot-5 guard with the Philadelphia swagger scored 11 points in the first half with all of his scoring coming from the free throw line (5 of 6) or behind the 3-point line where he made both of his attempts. Trawick's coach credited work done on the other for his point-producing performance.
"(Jabril's) intensity on the defensive end led to some buckets on the offensive end and led to a rejuvenated energy that he always brings when he enters the game," Thompson said.
*Those long distance shots catapulted Western Carolina into an early lead and kept the Southern Conference program close with the Big East (for now, anyway) power for much of the first half. The Catamounts made 11 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Going into the game, you probably couldn’t tell by our performance, we wanted to limit their three-point attempts," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. With (Tankelewicz), we told (our players) going into the game, he’s probably the best shooter we’ve faced all year. I think these guys sometimes just think we’re just joking around, but after he banged four or five of them we were a lot more attentive."
The Catamounts drained their first four attempts from beyond the arc against the Hoyas lengthy zone for a 13-6 lead; one turned into a four-point play with the other three by Tankelewicz. After halftime, the Hoyas limited the 6-foot-4 guard to three 3-point tries and five shots overall.
*Outrebounded in five its previous seven games and by five total rebounds on the season. Georgetown finished with a 34-27 edge on the glass.
*The Hoyas took 33 free throws - eight each from Whittington and Trawick – and finished with a 23-9 advantage at the line.
*After playing only nine minutes in two of his previous three games, Mikael Hopkins stayed on the court for 24 minutes against the Catamounts, but the extra time did not fix his offensive struggles. The sophomore big man missed all four of his field goal attempts, repeatedly coming up short in close. Over his last five games, Hopkins is shooting 21.7 percent (5 of 23) from the field. Thompson's continued use of a limited playing rotation ensures the DeMatha products minutes are secure, but more consistency is required from one Georgetown's better interior options.
*Georgetown hosts cross-town foe American next Saturday at noon.