Home Sweet Home: Men’s basketball picks off Howard in return to Verizon Center

November 27, 2016

Photo: Georgetown Sports Information

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (3-4, Big East) defeated Howard (0-5, MEAC), 85-72, on Sunday afternoon. While the Hoyas led from the tip to the final buzzer and the Bison never threatened, Georgetown’s cushion was earned early on, as they had built a 16-0 lead by the under-16 timeout, and then were outscored 72-69 in the subsequent 36 minutes. Graduate guard Rodney Pryor led the Hoyas with 26 points as well as 6 rebounds. Redshirt junior guard James Miller carried Howard with 30 points. This was the closest game of the season for a Howard team with a KenPom ranking of 308th amongst Division I schools.

Georgetown invested fully in the press in the opening minutes, and it payed dividends, yielding three steals sparking the early lead. Junior guard L. J. Peak had four steals on the game to compliment his 14 points. Peak also limited himself to three personal fouls, an area in which he chronically struggles, despite starting for the Hoyas. However, after building a lead as large as 17, Georgetown began to struggle. Learning from their initial miscues, Howard began breaking Georgetown’s pressure, and midway through the first half, the lead was back to single digits.

“We knew they were going to press us, but not having [senior] point guard [James Daniel III] on the floor, we kinda had to learn on the fly,” said Howard Head Coach Kevin Nickelberry. Daniel, who averaged over 27 points a game last season, is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle.

The score ebbed and flowed, with the lead stretching to as many as 19 and as few as eight. Each team had trouble effectively stopping the other, and the margin depended mostly on who had momentum on offense. Howard found success attacking the rim, and while senior center Bradley Hayes blocked four shots, Howard was able to penetrate the Georgetown defense; half of their points came in the paint.

“We saw a weakness in their five-man that we tried to exploit,” said Nickelberry.

For its part, Georgetown shot the ball exceptionally well, especially from deep, as Peak, Pryor, and junior guard Tre Campbell shot a combined 64.7 percent from three-point range. Howard ran a zone defense that, while providing stiff interior resistance, allowed the Hoyas space on the perimeter to fire away. Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson, who has missed the Hoyas’ last four games with an undisclosed injury, also contributed two quick corner threes down the stretch after initially struggling to find his range.

Photo: Georgetown Sports Information

“(He’s) anxious,” replied Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III when asked about Derrickson’s play in his return. “Marcus can shoot … I think he was trying to get everything back.”

Georgetown junior forward Akoy Agau played arguably the best game of his collegiate career in Sunday’s contest. Described by Thompson as “a blue-collar worker”, Agau fought for 14 points and six rebounds, a block and a steal. He also led the team’s passing game, notching five assists.

“With every game coming along, I’m starting to get more and more comfortable,” said Agau.

“Turnovers,” whispered Thompson into the microphone, as Agau began his answer. Agau had four.

Junior forward Isaac Copeland, who started for the Hoyas to open the season, did not dress for the game. Copeland suffered a minor facial injury last Wednesday against Oklahoma State, and is doubtful for Wednesday’s game against Coppin State. Senior forward Reggie Cameron, who was reported to be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team, returned to the bench and was dressed to play, but did not enter the game. Cameron has not logged a minute this season.

When asked to comment on Cameron’s departure and return, Thompson replied only “the comment is he’s back; (we’re) glad to have him back.”

With the Thanksgiving trip to Maui that had the team playing for three straight days in the rearview mirror, the team will use a three-game homestand to regroup.

“We are a work in progress. Seven games in, are we necessarily where we want to be? No,” said Thompson. “But it’s been about ten days or so, and other than prep for the next game, we haven’t had a practice… We need some gym time, and a lot of the things we’ve seen in the past few games, we literally haven’t had time to work on. Now, we can get in the gym in the next day or so and work on us.”

The Hoyas return to the Verizon Center on Wednesday, November 30th, in a 6:30 matchup against Coppin State (0-7 MEAC). The game will be broadcast locally on MASN.

Alex Lewontin
Award-winning journalist and photographer, apparently. The Voice's former executive news editor.


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