Hoyas right Puerto Rico ship, throttle Kansas State

Hoyas right Puerto Rico ship, throttle Kansas State
November 22, 2013, 3:15 pm
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That's more like it.

One day after blowing a 14-point lead and scuffling offensively versus Northeastern's zone concepts - and falling to 1-2 for the first time in the John Thompson III era -, Georgetown shredded Kansas State's man-to-man defense. The Hoyas pounded the paint for scores early, which inevitably led to open looks from the perimeter. They moved the ball effectively without committing turnovers while getting the Wildcats to do the exact opposite.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera paced four double-figure scorers with 25 points, 20 coming after halftime, Jabril Trawick had 16 points, Josh Smith dominated inside with a tone-setting 13 points as the resilient Hoyas throttled Kansas State 90-63 on Day Two of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The Hoyas (2-2) will play the winner of No. 10 VCU or Long Beach State on Sunday at 2 p.m.

It's rare that a game is never in doubt from the jump. Seeing as the Hoyas opened with an 8-0 run and maintained a double-digit lead over the Big 12 program (2-3) for the final 29 minutes, it really never was.

Smith brutalized the Wildcats inside early either as a punishing inside scorer or deft passer. Sharp ball movement led to constant interior looks and the Hoyas outscored the Wildcats 48-18 in the paint. Markel Starks 11 points and eight assists after the point guard went without an assist in Friday's loss to Northeastern, a game in which Smith-Rivera was the only Hoya to score at least 10 points,

Thomas Gipson had 18 points and Marcus Foster 16 for the Wildcats.

Push back: Georgetown led 45-28 at halftime. In theory, the door opened for a Kansas State rally two minutes into the second half when Smith picked up his fourth foul at 47-33. Smith-Rivera, who made 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc while making all nine of his free throw attempts, Starks and Trawick didn't allow for any momentum shift.

After a Moses Ayegba jumper, the backcourt trio scored Georgetown's next 21 points. Known more for his defensive prowess than scoring punch, Trawick tallied nine straight points in that span. Not a perimeter threat, Trawick's offensive game comes alive when he can take defenders off the dribble. Teams that play man-to-man defense give him and others that opportunity.

Assists to turnovers: Georgetown finished with 19 assists and had nine before committing its first turnover. The truly stunning part took place on the other side as Kansas State had 10 turnovers before registering its first assist and finished with just six overall.

Key stretch: Could easily go with those quick eight points, but the Hoyas separated themselves from the Wildcats midway through the first half with an 11-0 run for a 27-12 lead. Mikael Hopkins scored two baskets in that span, one on  low post move, the other a running bank shot which capped the spurt.

All hands: After using 11 players in the first half against Northeastern, Georgetown coach John Thompson stuck with a tighter rotation initially. Hopkins (eight points, team-high six rebounds), who is cementing his role as the primary big man off the bench, energetic swingman Aaron Bowen and shooting threat Reggie Cameron are the likely candidates to remain in the rotation.

Ayegba made his case for more minutes with two blocks and quality interior work on both ends. It's hard if not impossible to play him and fellow wide-body Smith at the same time. However, through four games, Smith has been largely unable to stay out of four trouble and his conditioning remains a work in progress. That should give Ayegba opportunities.

Taking advantage of charity: Entering the game shooting 64.1 percent from the free throw line, the Hoyas made 18 of 22.

Back to Hopkins: Easily my favorite part of college basketball is watching strides made by players, especially those initially not-quite-ready-for-primetime. Though the 6-foot-8 junior still looks awkward at times offensively, he's making the shots he's taking. More importantly, Hopkins leads Georgetown in rebounding (6.2) despite no longer receiving starter's minutes.

Bizarro Tournament: Most would have projected Georgetown, Kansas State and VCU into the same part of the bracket after first day. Just not on the consolation side. While defeating the Wildcats won't offset losing to a CAA program, knocking off a team that likely finishes in the top half of the Big 12 standings will help the Hoyas NCAA Tournament resume. Toppling VCU on Sunday would certainly count as a significant scalp. Even if it's not how the path envisioned, taking down two such programs would certainly turn the Puerto Rico journey into a making lemonade out of lemons kind of trip.

Final point: Why did Kansas State largely stick with the man-to-man defense especially after witnessing Georgetown's meltdown the day before? I'm sure Bruce Weber received such queries postgame.

Some coaches don't even bother with zone concepts, especially when they have superior talent on their side. Famed coach Bobby Knight famously played only man-to-man schemes at Indiana, but he softened that stance when he lacked a bevy of studs at Texas Tech. Coaches on contending teams often are more inclined to stick with what "we do"  rather than dramatically alter game plans for opponents.

Mid-major and smaller programs don't often have that luxury, both in terms of using zone or schemes. How the teams on Georgetown's remaining non-conference and Big East schedule defend the Hoyas looms as a major subplot going forward.