Recap: Markel Starks scored 16 of 21 points in the second, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 19 and the Georgetown Hoyas overcome blistering first half shooting by the Elon Phoenix for an 85-76 win on Tuesday night.
Josh Smith scored 18 points for the Hoyas (7-2), who won their fifth straight game and finished 4-0 on their homestand despite allowing 13 3-pointers and their most points in any first half this season. Georgetown shot 65.2 percent in the second half and made 23 of 31 free throws while the Phoenix finished 9 of 18. Nate Lubick added 10 points.
Lucas Troutman had 18 and Tanner Samson each scored 18 points for Elon (5-6), the Southern Conference preseason favorite.
Turning point: Smith-Rivera closed the first half scoring with a 3-point play as Georgetown trailed 40-39 at halftime. That would be the start of a 20-8 run as the Hoyas scored the opening six points of the second half by pounding the ball inside and never relinquished the lead.
Starks, who started the game 1 of 8 from the floor, then sank three straight 3-pointers, extending the lead to 56-48.
Nail biting: For the remainder of the second half the lead largely bounced between 5-8 points as the Hoyas switch to zone defense limited any Elon runs. Nate Lubick's dunk gave Georgetown its largest lead at 78-67 with 1:40 left. However, the Phoenix chipped away and pulled within 78-74 on Sebastian Koch's 3-point play with 1:04 remaining. From there the Hoyas made 7 of 8 free throws.
They said it: "Once we got Josh going, everything else was easier. Not to say it was ever easy, but it was easier." - Georgetown coach John Thompson III on the early second surge fueled by interior production from Smith.
Leading man: Starks sank 41.7 percent (63 of 151) of his 3-point attempts last season. That marksmanship rarely showed this campaign. The senior guard entered Tuesday shooting percent (11 of 44). In his previous game, he missed all five of his shots from deep against Colgate and finished 3 of 13 from the field. That version reappeared for the opening 25 minutes against Elon, though he made his only 3-point attempt in the first half. Then Starks made one 3 with 15:21 remaining. Another came 53 seconds later. Less than a minute went by before he drained one more.
"It was good to see Markel make those shots. He's been talking to himself a little bit," Thompson said.
Starks wouldn't reveal any inner monologue. On this night, his production spoke volumes.
"There are going to be times we I have to score the ball. Tonight was one of those nights," said Starks, one of four Hoyas with at least four assists. "When you look at the stat sheet, the scoring was spread out. I thought we did a very good job of sharing the ball. And when it came time to make shots, we made shots."
Take and Make it: Elon won the first half chess match, shooting 57.7 percent from the field (15 of 26) and 8 of 17 on 3-point attempts. During the opening 20 minutes, the Hoyas made 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, but shot 44.8 percent overall. In the second half, the Phoenix still made a healthy amount of shots and finished 13 of 29 from 3, but could not keep up with the Hoyas production. Georgetown finished with 20 assists on 28 made baskets.
Key stat: Free throws have not always been strength, but the Hoyas dominated in that category, especially in the first half, making 10 of 11 while Elon missed six of eight attempts.
Concerning stat: Elon outrebounded the bigger Hoyas 31-30. Georgetown won't have distinct size advantage against most teams going forward, including Kansas on Saturday.
Protect the house: The Hoyas have won 48 straight non-conference games at the Verizon Center.
D-fense: The Hoyas entered ranked second nationally in field goal percentage defense and third in 3-point defense, holding opponents to 24.2 percent from 3-point range. As for the Phoenix, who have several perimeter threats plus the 6-foot-10 Troutman roaming inside, their43.6 percent clip on 3-point tries ranks ninth overall.
After missing their first three field goal tries, all from beyond the arc, the Phoenix knocked down six straight including four 3's. They took the largest lead of the half at 31-25 on Troutman's jumper with 4:54 left and never did stop making shots.
Beyond the making, the Phoenix continually found open looks in rhythm. Georgetown moved the ball inside via drives, cutters or post passes, but many shots ultimately were contested or off-balance. Better flow in the second half led to cleaner looks.
Unintended backhanded compliment: "They played man and zone in the first half and we were able to get a flow offensively. In the second half, we weren't able to get as many open looks. ...They have a lot of length in their zone. They really stretched out in their zone. It was almost like a Syracuse zone as far as they stretched out." - Elon coach Matt Matheny
Stat-stuffer: Smith-Rivera, Georgetown's top perimeter threat, has a knack for making 3's but also contributing lots elsewhere. The 6-foot-3 guard led the Hoyas with seven rebounds, had four assists, four steals and made 8 of 9 free throws.
All time: Georgetown improved to 2-0 in the series, having previously knocked off the Phoenix 91-70 on December 13, 2003.
On deck: The most anticipated game at least on the non-schedule comes Saturday at Noon when Georgetown plays at No. 18 Kansas. For those not up to speed on the college basketball/NBA Draft landscape, wunderkind freshman and possible No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins leads the Jayhawks.