There are just eight unbeaten teams in college basketball. The Georgetown Hoyas are one of those teams. The Hoyas (7-0, Big East) continued their hot start to the season on Thursday night, hanging on to beat Howard (1-9, MEAC), 81-67. Georgetown was led by Jessie Govan’s 24 points and 16 rebounds, which was good for his fifth double-double of the season. Kaleb Johnson and Marcus Derrickson added 18 and 16 points, respectively. Howard was paced by Charles Williams’ 28 points.
The Hoyas led from the opening tip, with Govan patrolling the paint and Johnson knocking down open jumpers from behind the arc. A 13-4 lead at the first media timeout was indicative of the first half for the Blue & Gray, who never appeared to be in any real danger of losing the lead in the first 20 minutes of play. The team led by as many as 19 after a jumper from Govan with 3:09 remaining, but would settle for a 46-30 halftime lead, thanks in large part to Govan’s first half double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds).
On the defensive end, Georgetown did an excellent job of containing Howard’s leading scorer, RJ Cole, in the first half. Cole managed just seven points on a dismal 2-10 shooting, and was constantly bothered by the on-ball defense of Jonathan Mulmore and Jagan Mosely. While Cole was absent in the first half, his running mate, Charles Williams, responded, scoring a team-high 10 points on 50 percent shooting.
The opening minutes of the second half provided more of the same for Georgetown, which maintained double digit lead through the first ten minutes of the half. But Cole refused to be held in check for the entirety of the game and Williams remained hot to lead a Bison comeback attempt. A clutch 3-pointer from Williams with 4:06 remaining made it a five-point contest, but that was as close as the Bison would come. Johnson, Derrickson and Govan scored clutch buckets on the team’s final possessions, solidifying the double digit lead and the team’s seventh victory of the season.
Two Big Things
The Press is a Major Problem
Georgetown has yet to prove that it can remain composed when faced with a pressure-oriented defense. The Hoyas came into the game averaging 15.5 turnovers per game, and Howard took advantage throughout the game.
“They had 93 turnovers coming into the game,” Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “We definitely wanted to put them in situations to speed them up and make them think a little bit more.”
Given their struggles, the Blue & Gray can expect to see pressure defense in the foreseeable future. They’ll need to rectify their struggles to maintain their perfect record.
Despite holding an 18-point lead with 12:29 remaining, Georgetown allowed Howard to regain its footing and close the gap late in the game. Late-game struggles have plagued the Hoyas in recent years, and many of those problems resurfaced on Thursday. The biggest problem? Lack of execution on the offensive end. The Hoyas never seemed to have a consistent offensive scheme or rhythm in the final ten minutes.
“I think we started to lose focus. You know, we thought the game was over,” Govan said. “Coach got into us in the timeout and let us know the game wasn’t over… We really tried to buckle down in the last five minutes.”
Much like Howard, Big East teams won’t lie down when facing a large deficit. Weathering the storm will be crucial for the Hoyas moving forward.
Who’s on the Horizon?
Georgetown will have just over 36 hours to prepare for a home date against North Carolina A&T (5-3, MEAC) on Saturday.