Instant analysis: Hoyas defense throttles High point

Instant analysis: Hoyas defense throttles High point
December 5, 2013, 11:15 pm
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Even with an odd and rather late 9 p.m. tip-off, the pattern continued.

There was the strong start followed by the pre-halftime offensive lull including a stretch of errant 3-point attempts. Then came the explosive push opening the second half, putting to be any thoughts of late-game drama and turning Georgetown's latest home win into a rout.

Markel Starks broke out his shooting slump for 18 points and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 17 as the Hoyas led by double digits for the final 32 minutes in their 80-45 win over High Point on Thursday night.

In their fourth straight win, the Hoyas (5-2) made their first five shots and held a nine-point lead less than four minutes in. However, they didn't dramatically expand on that cushion, entering halftime up 28-16. Scant moments into the second half, the margin was 22 as Georgetown opened with a quick 10-0 spurt started by a layup and 3-pointer from Starks.

The lead ballooned from there as the Hoyas shot 61.8 percent in the second half, racking up 3-pointers, layups and dunks as needed during a 23-7 spurt. John Caprio's baseline layup gave Georgetown's its largest lead at 79-39 before the sparse crowd of 4,676.

Facing a Big South program minus its second-leading scorer, the Hoyas dominated defensively throughout, holding the usually efficient Panthers (3-4) to 28.1 percent (16 of 57) from the field. High Point finished 3 of 21 on 3-point attempts and did not have a player reach double figures until the final minutes. Jorge Perez-Laham had 10 points.

Joshua Smith scored 11 points in 18 minutes for the Hoyas, who shot 55.2 overall, sank 10 3-pointers and finished with a 16-0 advantage in fast break points.

Defensive excellence: Around a half-dozen NBA scouts were expected at the Verizon Center and not just to check out Georgetown for the umpteenth time. High Point forward John Brown entered averaging 21.7 points and shooting 64 percent from the field.

Let's hope the scouts catch the sophomore on another night because the Hoyas engulfed Brown and his teammates. Whether smothering man-to-man defense or zone traps, Georgetown had bodies and often bigger ones at that covering all angles and ready for all switches.

The Panthers, who entered making 51 percent of their field goal attempts, shot 18.5 percent in the first half and missed 10 off 11 3-point attempts before halftime.

"I just didn't want them to come down and do what they wanted to do," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of his team's 1-2-2 zone trap. "It gets us going."

Strong start, but then...:  The Hoyas made their first five field goal attempts including three 3-pointers. Smith's power slam made it 13-4 before the first television timeout. As it turned out the, the game was never in doubt from there. Smith-Rivera's free throw made it 21-9 with 10:54 remaining.

Then came the collective drought as each team only scored seven points over the remainder of the half. After starting 8 of 12 from the floor, Georgetown missed nine of its final 12 attempts. After making their first three 3's, the Hoyas ended the half missing five of six. Not as bad as missing 14 straight 3-pointers like the Hoyas did in Saturday's win over Lipscomb, but the similarities were evident.

"We didn't score, it felt like for quite some time," Thompson said. "Just out execution was not where it needs to be. ...I thought in the second half we were good at both ends of the court."

His senior guard went for the blunt analysis.

"Coach was being a little bit modest, but times during certain stretches  we were pretty bad especially during the first half," Starks said. "We just couldn't get into a rhythm, unforced turnovers. Once we got settled, I thought defensively we were pretty good."

During the offensive downturn, Moses Ayegba played key minutes off the bench after not entering the game against Lipscomb. The reserve center grabbed eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

Starks: Last season the point guard made shots from all angles including 41 percent from beyond the arc. Over the last four games this season, the ball rarely found the net for the confident scorer whether challenged defensively or wide open. Against Lipscomb, Starks went 2 for 13 and missed six of eight 3-point attempts. The previous season's version returned against High Point as Starks sank 8 of 11 attempts including 2 of 4 on 3-point tries.

"The ball just went in," Starks said. "I really honestly couldn't tell you. I've been getting up extra reps. Before the ball just wasn't going in, but tonight obviously it went in."

Zone busters: There is no mystery that the Hoyas read-and-react offense has struggled against zone. Go back and watch the Northeastern loss for a refresher. High Point provided the opportunity for work in this area. Georgetown passed this test easily, working inside repeatedly en route to 42 points-in-the paint. Four of the Hoyas five starters had at least four assists.

"That's what we wanted to try to do," Thompson said of the inside-out flow. "I thought they would play a lot of zone and we wanted to try and make a conscience effort of going inside." 

Stat: Georgetown scored over 80 points for the fourth time this season in seven games. Last campaign they reached 80 only three times.

Chaney: High Point was without forward and Baltimore native Allan Chaney, who has an internal defibrillator. He missed his second straight game after collapsing on the court against Wofford on November 24. Told in 2010 he had a heart condition that would end his career, Chaney transferred from Virginia Tech to High Point, where he's played 32 games over two seasons.

"Nothing to report right now," Panthers coach Scott Cherry said. "Other than that I would rather see him sitting over there in uniform, running around and helping us win. I would guess that it would be soon and I couldn’t tell you if it’d be the next day, two, three, a week but there will probably be something coming in the near future once he gets finished with all of his medical evaluations."  

In the house: Former Georgetown star and current Washington Wizard rookie Otto Porter watched from behind the home bench. Wizards teammate Jan Vesely sat courtside.

On deck: In less than 48 hours the Hoyas are back at it, hosting Colgate on Saturday at 12:00 p.m.