Georgetown's perimeter play didn't convert on last week's overseas trip to South Korea. The Hoyas shooters had far better luck in their return to Chinatown.
First half 3-pointers started the rout over a potential tricky mid-major foe as the Hoyas never let Wright State find its inner Florida Gulf Coast. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half, Markel Starks had 23 and the Hoyas sank 10 of 22 shots from beyond the arc in a dominating 88-70 win over the Raiders on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
Freshman Reggie Cameron made the first three shots of his college career, all 3-pointers, all in the first half for the Hoyas (1-1). After a dismal 1 of 15 effort from distance in Friday's 82-75 loss to Oregon, Georgetown made eight before halftime against Wright State (1-1).
Despite a quiet statistical night from opening game scoring leader Joshua Smith, the Hoyas led 50-31 at halftime as Smith-Rivera, Starks and Cameron combined for 36 points on seven 3-pointers.
Georgetown never trailed and took command with a 17-4 first half run. Smith-Rivera scored eight of the final 10 in that stretch and his 3-pointer gave the Hoyas a 22-9 lead with 13:06 remaining before halftime. They extended the lead to 25 points in the second half, shot 50 percent from the field and fended off any comeback attempts by Wright State with relative ease.
Feeding off the return home, Smith-Rivera made 8 of 12 shots including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, and all six of his free throws before the crowd of 7,350. He missed all five of his 3-point tries and finished 2 of 10 against Oregon.
"It was expected, to tell you the truth," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of his backcourt's stepped up production. "I think the last game is not who we are, who they are."
Smith, who scored a career-high 25 against the Ducks, played more of a decoy role in his first home game with the Hoyas. Faced with frequent double teams as the Raiders doubled when the ball went inside, the big man had six points, four rebounds and four turnovers in 17 minutes.
Kendall Griffin had 15 points for the Raiders, who played without leading returning scorer Cole Darling (ankle). The experienced squad and projected Horizon League title contender will have better days, but they rarely pressured Georgetown defensively or on the glass while shooting only 38.6 percent from the field.
Three falling: The Hoyas had an Oprah-like performance from distance against the Raiders: You hit a three, you hit a three, you hit a three!!! Georgetown sank four of five within the first eight minutes including two straight from Cameron, who finished with nine points. Starks also had three 3's while doling out six assists. Mikael Hopkins joined in the first half barrage with the second 3-pointer of his career.
"We were going to double off the post feeder and move on to the right guys to take shots," Wright State coach Billy Donlan. "As I told my kids, Starks and Rivera can’t get threes, everyone else can. If [Nate] Lubick and Hopkins and [Jabril] Trawick make threes all night, that’s fine. The problem was in the first half, their key guys got threes"
Reversal of fortune: No aspect of Smith-Rivera's opening game performance, certainly not his 0 for 5 from 3, will be part of any personal highlight reels. The sophomore's torrent of buckets against the Raiders is another story.
"He can shoot the ball, he can score so you got to get him going," Starks said of his fellow guard. "Especially knowing he can really score in the Verizon. That only adds to it. He shot the ball incredibly well tonight...Come on, he's in the gym so he's going to make shots."
One half is better than two: Besides scoring more points than in any first half last season, Georgetown's 50 points before halftime trumped its final total in four games last season.
Glass work: Outrebounded 40-32 against Oregon, the Hoyas finished 40-31 on the boards against Wright State led by Nate Lubick's eight. Yes, Smith grabbed a defensive rebound, two in fact, after going without one over 27 minutes in the opener.
Extra wings: In terms of the known commodities, the Hoyas entered the season with bigs and littles but uncertainty in between. After a collective nondescript effort in the opener, Cameron and Aaron Bowen (two steals) played effective minutes against the Raiders. The 6-foot-7 Cameron, who didn't attempt a shot against Oregon, certainly did better than that with his first half shooting.
"Reggie can shoot. Reggie did what Reggie does," Thompson said of the team's lone freshman while also noting his work on the other end of the court. "I thought he was active defensively, attentive defensively."
The interior rotation of Smith, Nate Lubick, Hopkins and Moses Ayegba offers plenty size, but limited mobility. The backcourt trio of Starks, Smith-Rivera and Jabril Trawick is basically the opposite. Having swingmen to defend the perimeter and provide scoring punch gives Thompson rotational options especially since he cannot play more than two of bigs together at a time. Consider this the sleeper angle of the young season. Also note sophomore Stephen Domingo received only mop up duty.
Fix this: Though Smith-Rivera, Starks and Jabril Trawick made all 14 of their free throws, the Hoyas collectively finished 22 of 34 overall. That's 42 of 64 (66 percent) in two games.
Winless no more: Georgetown avoided its first 0-2 start since 1998-99, John Thompson Jr.'s final campaign.
Stats: Starks went 7 of 14 from the field and made exactly half of his shots in both games this season.
On deck: The Hoyas are back on the road again for three games in four days as part of the Puerto Rico Tip-off. Georgetown faces Northeastern on November 21, either Kansas State or Charlotte on the 22nd before its final game on November 24 against possibly Michigan, VCU or Florida State.