With three years experience and countless 20-point (or more) games under his belt, no team was going to be surprised if Chris Wright beat them this season. On Sunday, however, Wright once again showed an opponent that he is now able to make his teammates do it for him.
Wright tied a career-high with 12 assists as he led No. 9 Georgetown (9-1) to an 89-61 drubbing of Appalachian State (3-4).
“With them it all starts with Chris Wright,” Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel said after the game. “He’s the head of the snake. He came out and really set his tone on the game without really scoring the basketball, and that’s what you want from your senior leader.”
Wright’s passing prowess has been on display throughout this season, but against the Mountaineers he seemed particularly aggressive in distributing the ball. The senior guard attempted only seven shots, connecting on three for six points, but found six different players for his 12 assists.
The Hoyas needed a facilitator like Wright against the Mountaineers, because nearly every player on the Georgetown bench was ready to score. Thirteen players ended up recording points for the Hoyas, including freshman Moses Ayegba, who played in his first collegiate game after serving a nine-game suspension for receiving a gift in violation of NCAA rules.
“We have a group of guys that are ready to contribute,” head coach John Thompson III said of his team’s depth. “It’s no big deal. They come in and do their job. They do what they’re supposed to do.”
Four Hoyas scored in double figures, led by junior guard Jason Clark, who had 15 points.
Wright was the center of the Georgetown offense, the one constant as the entire roster took turns putting the ball in the basket. Sometimes even his teammates couldn’t see the openings Wright envisioned until the ball was in their hands.
“They come out of nowhere,” Clark said of Wright’s passes. “They’re passes that you think won’t get to you but Chris has that ability to get the ball to you. I think if we all keep our eyes on him, and keep our eyes on the ball, he’s going to find us.”
The highlight of Wright’s afternoon had to be an amazing behind-the-back dish to Austin Freeman as he barreled towards the basket at full speed in transition. Wright drew the defender and Freeman had an easy layup, two of his 14 points.
Wright had the Hoya offense firing on all cylinders, especially in the second half, when Georgetown shot 72.4 percent from the field. Thompson was pleasantly surprised by his team’s prolific shooting.
“Going into this game in the locker I was a little nervous, because following the Temple game, the last two days we’ve done literally maybe five minutes of offense,” Thompson said. “It’s just been all defense.”
That practice strategy certainly paid off, however, as the Hoyas limited the normally potent Mountaineer attack to just 60 points. That was in large part thanks to the defense of Clark, who held senior guard Donald Sims, the country’s second-leading scorer, to just 14 points.
Altogether, Georgetown played one of its most complete games of the season to rebound from a disappointing defeat against Temple on Thursday. The Hoyas have one more tune-up against Loyola on Saturday before facing No. 13 Memphis and then Big East play.
If Wright can keep piloting the Hoyas like he did on Sunday, those challenges could be easier than anyone thought. He’ll certainly keep garnering more attention, both from opposing game planners and Sportscenter highlight reels. The veteran point guard, however, has learned that he doesn’t want to be the center of attention.
“I’m not really trying to play flashy,” Wright said. “I think I’m just making the right reads.”