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McClung, Akinjo lead Georgetown to OT victory over Little Rock

Georgetown’s defensive woes continued, but their freshman duo combined for 63 points in their OT win.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgetown Hoyas (9-3) outlasted the Arkansas Little Rock Trojans (5-8) on Saturday afternoon at the Capital One Arena, winning 102-94 in overtime. Mac McClung scored a career-high 38 points while James Akinjo added 25 points and seven assists. Nikola Maric paced Little Rock with 27 points and eight rebounds.

Both teams started the game on the right foot, as quick pace and hot shooting combined to see the teams score 103 first-half points. Little Rock took an early advantage by leaking out in transition for easy layups. Rayjon Tucker capped a 6-0 Trojan run that put his team ahead by six with 16:25 remaining, prompting a timeout by Patrick Ewing. McClung quickly responded with consecutive three-pointers in the next minute, tying the game. The teams would exchange baskets for the ensuing two minutes, with Little Rock maintaining a small lead. McClung hit a transition layup at 11:49 to give Georgetown its first lead of the day.

Georgetown would extend the lead to seven in the next five minutes thanks to a three-pointer by Greg Malinowski. That lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Maric scored seven points shortly after, spurring a Trojan run that saw the visitors take their largest lead of the half, 50-43, with three minutes remaining. McClung responded with eight points to close the half as Georgetown remained within one at the break, 52-51.

The offensive firepower that fueled the first half was largely absent after intermission. Both teams struggled to hit jump shots but found success driving into the paint for layups, dunks, or foul calls. Little Rock led throughout the first eight minutes , with Rayjon Tucker joining Maric as a catalyst for the offense. An and-one layup from McClung tied the game entering the U12 media timeout before the freshman gave Georgetown its first lead of the half just a minute later on a fastbreak layup. Buckets again exchanged in the following minutes, and the score tied on three separate occasions before Akinjo split a pair of free throws to put the Hoyas in the driver’s seat.

Georgetown seemed to be in control from there, steadily building its lead to as many as eight with 3:53 remaining. But Little Rock continued to plug away. Maric and Markquis Nowell were instrumental in leading the comeback effort, combining for 13 points in the final minutes. Nowell was clinical from the line, making all nine of his second-half attempts.

The Hoyas had several opportunities to put the game on ice, but failed to convert. Akinjo missed the front end of a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining that could have extended the lead to four. Nowell drilled both of his foul shots on the Trojans’ next possession before McClung was fouled with 6.2 second left. McClung made his first attempt before missing his second, but he grabbed the offensive rebound and earned two more attempts after being fouled. He split the pair, providing Georgetown with a three-point lead with five seconds remaining. Then, Ryan Pippins dribbled from the backcourt up and pulled up from the edge of the Georgetown halfcourt logo, banking in the game-tying heave. The Hoyas converted just 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) second-half free throws.

The freshman backcourt combined for 14 points to outscore the entire Little Rock team in overtime.

Kaleb Johnson provided crucial minutes off the bench for Georgetown in his most substantial playing time of the season. With Trey Mourning ruled out (concussion protocol) and Jessie Govan and Josh LeBlanc dealing with foul trouble throughout the action, Johnson played solid defense and contributed 12 points and nine rebounds. He was second on the team in +/- at +12, trailing only Jagan Mosely’s +22. Mosely also played well off the bench, drawing a charge late in the game that stymied Little Rock’s offensive rhythm.

However, Georgetown will need to correct its defensive lapses it hopes to compete in the Big East. The Hoyas surrendered a whopping 40 free throw attempts in the win, and allowed Little Rock to shoot 50 percent from the floor. The Blue & Gray looked particularly vulnerable in transition. Little Rock took advantage of Maric’s size advantage on the block, as Grayson Carter struggled to defend on the low block after being forced to play the center position with LeBlanc and Govan sidelined.

The Hoyas have a week to tune up before hosting Howard in its nonconference finale.