It took longer than expected, but Jason Clark scored his 1,000th career point Monday night.
It also took the Hoyas (5-1) longer than they expected, but they eventually pulled away from IUPUI (2-5) to capture an 81-58 victory.
Georgetown returned to the Verizon Center for its first game since its upset of then-No. 8 Memphis in the Maui Invitational. It looked like the Hoyas had a post-Hawaii hangover in the early going, allowing the Jaguars to lead for most of the first half.
In fact, the Hoyas led for less than three minutes in the first period against a team that had only recently snapped a four-game losing streak. Georgetown struggled to find its offense while Pre-Season Summit League Player of the Year Alex Young took over for the Jaguars, scoring his team’s first 10 points en route to 16 points in the half.
“It’s like we were stuck in mud almost with our defensive rotations,” head coach John Thompson III said. “They were getting too many open, easy shots. That’s not what we’ve been about. That’s not who we are.”
Clark was just one of a number of Hoyas who got off to a slow start. The senior guard, who came in averaging 19 points per game, missed his first three shots and finished the first half with two turnovers and zero field goals.
“He didn’t have a good night,” Thompson said. “As a coach I kept waiting for him to hit one and get out of it and get out of it. I thought about taking him out a little earlier than I did, but I kept wanting him to end with something positive.”
After the break, it was a completely different story for the Hoyas. They opened the second half on a 15-4 run and never looked back. Georgetown shot 57.1 percent from the field after halftime and held the previously unstoppable Young scoreless.
“We just said, ‘Let’s defend him—he has half their points,’” sophomore guard Markel Starks said. “We played defense in the second half. We didn’t communicate a lot in the first half … once we communicated, boxed out, that sort of thing, we were able to stop them.”
No Hoya illustrated the team’s complete turnaround better than sophomore forward Nate Lubick. Lubick committed a series of errors in the first half, getting two of his shots blocked and letting a number of rebounds slip through his hands. In the second half, however, he was a different player on both ends of the floor, cleaning up the boards and putting an exclamation point on the Hoyas’ takeover with an emphatic two-handed dunk to put Georgetown up by nine three minutes into the half. Lubick finished with eight points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
“That was a great pass by Hollis [on the dunk],” Lubick said. “I struggled early on a little bit, but we just kept playing. The second half once we got things going I started playing a little better.”
Hollis Thompson starred for the Hoyas, posting a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. The junior forward was 9-for-15 from the field and also chipped in two assists and two steals in his 30 minutes.
“Hollis can shoot. Hollis can really shoot,” Coach Thompson said. “But the other parts of the game, be it defense, be it rebounding—I think his communication with his teammates is at a much higher level than it was in previous years. He is able to do everything on the court well.”
Young paced the Jaguars with his 16 points.
Clark, Georgetown’s leading scorer, finished with seven points and just one field goal on the night. That one bucket was a big one, however. The senior captain came into the game needing four points to reach his milestone, and he had hit three free throws with 15:30 to go in the second half. It was at that point that Lubick found Clark driving into the lane for a layup to surpass 1,000 points for his career.
“Jason Clark is an honest player. He’s going to give you an honest effort every day,” Thompson said. “He also understands that you have to do everything. So I was glad for him getting his 1,000th point. We’ll give him a ball some time soon, forget about it, and keep playing.”