Tale of two half's for the Hoyas
Recap: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera outscored St. John's in the first half, drained six 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 31 points as the Georgetown Hoyas dominated their Big East rival from start to finish for a 77-60 win on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
Markel Starks had 11 points for the Hoyas (10-3, 2-0), who shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first half with 14 assists on 15 baskets in the 100th meeting between between the longtime rivals. Smith-Rivera sank 5 of 6 from beyond the arc for 20 points as Georgetown entered halftime leading 42-16 halftime lead. The Hoyas extended the lead to 33 points at 59-26 in the second half.
Max Hooper scored 13 points for the Red Storm (9-5, 0-2). St. John's shot 21.8 percent (6 of 28) in the first half. D'Angelo Harrison, the Big East's third-leading scorer with 19.6 points, finished with four points on 1 of 12 shooting.
They said it: "The more and more I kept shooting it felt like that. I think it was more of my teammates just finding me in the areas I was open. I wasn't expecting to be that open. Markel did a great job today of just finding open guys and I was one of them." -- Smith-Rivera on whether the basket seemed rather large for him during the game.
Turning point: Citing the opening tip might be too cute, though not wrong seeing as the Hoyas never trailed. Smith-Rivera's third 3-pointer with 15:54 left put Georgetown up 11-4 and started a 15-2 run. Defensively Georgetown effectively used its extended pressure as St. John's went 1 of 10 from the field in that stretch and finished the half with 11 turnovers, one above its season average.
Key stat: In two games last season against the Hoyas, he high-scoring Harrison went 3 of 21 from the field for four points. On Saturday he missed all five of his 3-point attempts and failed to score reach double figures for the first time this season.
Asked on Friday about his team's success guarding St. John's top scorer, Georgetown coach John Thompson III downplayed his side's effort, chalking up the misses to Harrison having bad games. Not sure that tale can be told after another clanking performance for the junior guard, though the coach disagreed.
"You're just trying to jinx us cause we're playing them again in a couple of weeks," Thompson responded to a question about defending Harrison. "He's had three bad games in a row against us."
Leading man: Not that he's been in a slump, but Smith-Rivera scoring and 3-point numbers dipped over the previous five games. He had no issues of any kind from anywhere on the court against St. John's man defense looks. Just over three minutes into the game and the sophomore sank two 3-pointers, more than he had in four of his last five games. Overall, he made 9 of 12 shots from the field, 6 of 7 from beyond the arc, 7 of 8 free throw attempts with six rebounds and three assists. St. John's did not outscore DSR until making it 59-29 with 13:07 remaining.
Smith-Rivera, who scored 33 points as a freshman versus DePaul, became the second player with at least two 30-point games in the John Thompson III era. Austin Freeman had four games with 30 or more points under Thompson.
Tale of two halves: That's how Thompson described the game as St. John's shot 56.7 percent on the second half and outscored Georgetown 44-35 in that stretch. "We had nine turnovers in each half, which we can't do," the coach said. "We can't do that. We were fortunate for the most part particularly in the first half we were still getting stops. In the second half those turnovers led to baskets."
Status quo: Joshua Smith, benched for most of the second half in Tuesday's 61-54 win over DePaul, started and played 23 minutes. The Big East's field goal percentage leader went 1 of 6 for five points, but had four steals and matched Smith-Rivera for a team-high six rebounds.
Odds and ends: Jabril Trawick committed six of the Hoyas' 18 turnovers. ... Georgetown went 22 of 36 from the free throw line despite Smith-Rivera's effort and Moses Ayegba making 5 of 6. ...Lavin shook up his starting lineup, sitting forward JaKarr Sampson and guards Rysheed Jordan and Phil Green IV. Walk-on Khadim Ndiaye made his first start of the season. ...The play turned chippy late as Starks, Trawick and Jordan each received a technical foul.
Protect the house: The Hoyas improved to 8-0 at home this season.
Historic: St. John's leads the all-time series 53-47. ...Allen Iverson scored 39 points against St. John's in 1996, the most scored by a Georgetown player in the series history.
Century mark: Not one for public displays of nostalgia, Thompson indulged a reporter's question about the significance of the 100th game.
"You think back to many of the memorable moments. The sweater game, Chris Mullin, Felipe Lopez, along with all of our guys. That's what conference play is about. Over time, you have those special moments. That's one of things that I'm excited as we get going with this new conference."
See you soon: Georgetown plays at St. John's on Feb. 16
On deck: The start a three-game road swing at Providence on Wednesday