Hoyas-FGCU preview: Otto being Otto

Hoyas-FGCU preview: Otto being Otto
March 22, 2013, 9:45 am
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NCAA Tournament, South Region, round of 64: No. 2 Georgetown (25-6) vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (24-10)

When and where: Friday, 6:50 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

The projected starting lineups: Hoyas - Jabril Trawick (G, 6-5, So.), Markel Starks (G, 6-3, Jr.), Otto Porter Jr. (F, 6-8, So.), Mikael Hopkins (F, 6-9, So.), Nate Lubick (F, 6-8, Jr.); Eagles - Brett Comer (G, 6-3, So.), Bernard Thompson (G, 6-3, So.), Sherwood Brown (G, 6-4, Sr.), Eric McKnight (F, 6-9, So.), Chase Fieler (F, 6-8, Jr.)

The coaches: Hoyas - John Thompson III, 9th season, 209-88 record (277-13 overall in 13 seasons); Andy Enfield, 2nd season, 39-27.

The leaders: Hoyas - points (Porter, 16.3; Markel Starks 12.5), rebounds (Porter, 7.4), assists (Starks, 2.9); Eagles - points (Brown, 15.3; Thompson 14.0), rebounds (Brown, 6.3), assists (Comer, 6.3)

How did they get here: The Hoyas received an at-large berth after closing the regular season winning 12 of 13 games and sharing the Big East title with Louisville and Marquette. In only their second year of postseason eligibility, the most interesting Enfield and the Eagles captured the Atlantic Sun's automatic bid by defeating Mercer for the conference tournament title.

When the Hoyas are on offense: Georgetown will seek open court opportunities throughout, though this could be a game where its halfcourt schemes and length prove decisive. According to Thompson, the Eagles do not stick with any one specific defensive scheme and change looks possession by possession. The Hoyas offense will continue to go through Porter either on the wings or around the foul line area with Starks and Smith-Rivera providing perimeter punch. Starks has picked up the pace lately, averaging 14.5 points and while shooting 52.1 percent (12 of 23) from beyond the arc. FGCU racks up steals, picking up nine per game with Thompson among the nation's individual leaders.

When the Hoyas are on defense: The Eagles (73.1 ppg) pace preference is an up-tempo one and they knock down 6.8 3-pointers per game. Comer (6.3 assists, 17th nationally) directs traffic and dominates possession while Brown shoots 37.2 percent on his 3-point attempts.

"They're outstanding, I think, at getting what they want, and as it relates to when they're on offense they spread you out," Thompson said. "They have shooters and guys that can attack the basket and they pose problems.

However, FGCU also frequently loses possession, committing 14.7 turnovers. Comer had at least four in 17 of the Eagles 34 games, though he avoided any in the Eagles upset win over Miami this season. Look for Starks and Trawick, who fuels the Hoyas defensive intensity, to take turns trying to slow Comer down and get him into uncomfortable situations.

Seventh nationally in scoring defense (55.7 ppg), Georgetown finished the regular season 13-1 when its opponent committed 14 or more turnovers and held 15 of its last 18 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field.

Otto being Otto: The unanimous Big East Player of the Year, Porter led the Hoyas in scoring, rebounding, steals and 3-point shooting. His stepped up production following the 0-2 start in conference play and following the loss of fellow starter Greg Whittington was the straw the stirred the Hoyas winning drink.

However, in Georgetown's previous game - last Friday's 58-55 Big East Tournament semifinal loss to Syracuse - Porter was for a rare time not at his All-American best. He missed nine of 13 shots, but also did not dominate the game in any particular area. Asked this week how he needs the team's leading scorer to respond, Thompson said, "Just by being Otto Porter. We don't have to lay him down on the sofa and have a counseling session with him. I don't know if he had a bad game. The way they were guarding him it was impossible to get him too many free looks. Otto is going to be Otto. I'm not worried about him at all."

On deck?: For the winner, No. 7 San Diego St. or No. 10 Oklahoma on Sunday. With consecutive victories, Georgetown would advance into the tournament's second week for the first time since reaching the 2007 Final Four.