If winning and improving stood as Georgetown's most basic goals entering its just concluded four-game homestand, mission accomplished. At least one could make that case following Saturday afternoon's 65-48 win over crosstown foe American at the Verizon Center.
The glass half-empty crowd also has its arguments even as Georgetown claimed its seventh straight victory. As one might expect from a head coach, John Thompson III's postgame reaction to No. 15 Georgetown's final non-conference performance and its 10-1 record entering Big East straddled both sides.
Otto Porter finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, and Greg Whittington scored 13. The Hoyas starters and energy reserve Jabril Trawick bulldozed the Eagles during a 16-0 run overlapping halftime with the eventually lead ballooning to 60-34 on Trawick's dunk with 9:56 remaining.
"I thought that stretch was pretty good, particularly the start of the second half where we got some offensive rebounds," the praising version of Thompson said. "That was part of the halftime discussion."
Other parts of said mid-game discussion involved slowing down the Eagles 3-point shooters and simply playing better - "I didnt think we were good in that first half," the exacting coach said.
After forging the 26-point lead, Georgetown went nearly seven minutes without a point. American took advantage and cut into the lead at 60-46, prompting Thompson to put his core group back on the court for the game's final four minutes.
"I did not want to lose," the Georgetown coach said following his team's ninth straight win over American. Georgetown leads the all-time series 45-8.
There was no real danger of Thompson's fear coming true against the Eagles (4-8), who have lost seven of nine games and never pulled closer. Though American made several early 3-pointers and the Hoyas followed up their hot-shooting first half by clanking at a 32 percent clip (8 of 25), Georgetown sank 10 of 21 from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Eagles 42-30.
“I felt like we moved the ball real well, making the extra pass and we were able to get a couple wide open shots," said Porter, who made 3 of 4 three-pointers and dished out three assists without a turnover.
Outside of the slugfest homestand-opening victory over Towson, there was no real danger of defeat in any of the four games, though aesthetically it hasn't always been pretty. Then again, "When you start the year if you say 'ok after 11 games you'll be 10-1, will you take that?'" the coach pondered rhetorically. "Yeah, I'll take that."
"We have to continue to improve, there are a lot of things we have to get much better at starting [Jan. 5] at Marquette then we are right now."
Daniel Munoz led the Eagles with 15 points and three 3-pointers. The Eagles first three baskets came from beyond the arc, but they shot 8 of 24 overall on 3-point tries.
Against constant full court pressure American committed six of its seven turnovers before halftime. Led by Porter and Whittington, Georgetown's length and pressure kept the Eagles off-balance throughout.
"Nobody’s going to be perfect and sometimes you make mistakes but at least three of the six [turnovers] in the first half were just kind of careless," American's Jeff Jones said. "There was no reason to even attempt to play and it resulted in quick points by Georgetown. That’s something coming in we knew, with that length, and Porter really good at the front of that pressure. They convert turnovers from turnover to points as well as anybody in the country."
Asked for more specific thoughts on Porter, a legitimate All-American candidate, Jones cracked, “He’s not bad," before turning serious about the Hoyas versatile star. "It’s funny because I got this idea of Georgetown players and kind of over the years since JTIII has been there and they’ve had really versatile players and, to me, Otto Porter fits that mold perfectly...Porter might be the best cutter without the ball in the country."
Now for Georgetown comes a lengthy two-week break before starting Big East playing in Milwaukee, though the players return for practice immediately after Christmas. When asked about the team potentially losing focus during the down time, Thompson accuented the positives.
"I don't think that's going to be an issue at all because it's Big East play," Thompson said. "There are a few things we need to make some adjustments too. Gives. us some time to do that, some interrupted time to do that."
Notes...UCLA transfer Josh Smith attended the game, sitting directly behind Georgetown's bench. The 6-foot-10 junior left the Pac-12 program and is considering enrolling at Georgetown, Kansas and Washington, according to reports. Smith's career at UCLA included Pac-10 All-Freshman honors, but his numbers and minutes dipped because of conditioning issues. He is expected to have three semesters of eligibility remaining...Former Georgetown star Greg Monroe sat courtside as his Detroit Pistons play on the same court Saturday night against the Wizards.