Freshman guard Isaac Copeland defied his years once again to help the Georgetown men’s basketball team (17-8, 9-5 Big East) put together another strong conference win, this time against St. John’s (17-9, 6-7 Big East). The Hoyas calmed the Red Storm 79-57 in a game that should have been closer than it was.
Georgetown head coach John Thompson III opted for an unconventional lineup against the Johnnies, entrusting Copeland with just the third start of his career on the Hilltop. The Raleigh native repaid his coach’s faith with 12 points, but contributed most under the Hoyas’ own basket, where he collected a career-high nine rebounds.
“Some people happen to just get the ones that fall to them,” said Thompson of the freshman’s rebounding. “[Copeland] goes upstairs to get them and he gets the ones out of his area. That energizes our team and it energizes him, but he got some big, big rebounds today.”
The highly rated freshman recognized the importance of one of his more understated contributions, not only for the record books but also for the Hoyas’ team dynamic.
“I think once I started getting some rebounds it opened the door for everybody else to crash the boards,” said Copeland. “We’re a pretty athletic team too. Nobody really talked about our offensive rebounds, but I think we’re starting to make a statement now.”
Georgetown’s game was deceptively balanced. Senior center Joshua Smith, senior forward Mikael Hopkins, freshman forward L.J. Peak, and junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera each had 12 points each, but the majority of the Blue and Gray’s offensive production came in the second half as they shot 68.2 percent from the floor and 70.0 percent from outside the arc.
“In the first half we were also getting open shots, they just weren’t going in,” Thompson said. “The shots that we missed in the first half we were fortunate to make in the second half.”
The Hoyas also benefited from a misfiring St. John’s team. Leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison scored a measly five points, all of which came from free-throws. Chris Obekpa, touted as one of the top shot blockers in the nation, had a torrid evening dealing with Smith in the paint. In fact, the last points the Red Storm scored in the first half came when senior center Joey De La Rosa scored a reverse layup with 8:43 left. The Hoyas then went on a scoring streak that saw them take a 33-23 lead into the break.
The Red Storm never came within 10 points of their Big East rivals during the second half. The game finished with the Hoyas boasting a 22-point advantage over their opponents. Before the game, analysts predicted Georgetown would walk away with a mere six-point victory. Despite their success, Thompson is keeping his head level.
“We’re better. We can’t get complacent. We are going to have some pretty hard practices here the next couple of days,” said Thompson. “I think that a lot of it is our players, it takes time, but I think they’re starting to take pride and understand that attention to detail is important. We still have to keep the focus that we’ve had lately and still keep trying to get better.”
That focus will shift now to DePaul (12-14, 6-7 Big East), who the Hoyas will host Saturday at the Verizon Center at 8 p.m. The last time the two teams met, Georgetown managed to pull out a 78 – 72 win at the Allstate Arena.