Curing the Conference Blues: Men’s Basketball Beats No. 16 Creighton

Curing the Conference Blues: Men’s Basketball Beats No. 16 Creighton

By:
01/26/2017

“It feels good. It feels really, really good.”

So said Head Coach John Thompson III after the Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-10, 2-6 Big East) beat No. 16 Creighton (18-3, 5-3 Big East) by a score of 71-51 to earn its second Big East victory of the season. Georgetown junior guard L.J. Peak and Creighton freshman forward Justin Patton led the scoring with 20 points each. Peak’s three-pointer late in the second half brought his career point total to 1,000, making him the 46th player in Georgetown’s history to accomplish that feat.

In the game’s early minutes offense was hard to come by. The teams managed only 23 combined points in the first 12 minutes. This included a three-minute stretch in which neither team managed to score.

“It was a rock fight early,” Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott said. “Nobody could make a shot.”

The Hoyas’ tandem of Peak and graduate student guard Rodney Pryor managed to finally break the dry spell for the home team. A three-pointer from Peak—assisted by Pryor—followed soon after by a breakaway alley-oop dunk from Pryor—the pass provided by Peak—launched a 23-12 run for Georgetown to end the first half. A buzzer-beating layup from junior forward Akoy Agau punctuated the opening period of play.

“Pryor and Peak were able at times to just rise up over top of us and score,” McDermott said. “We really didn’t have an answer for Pryor or Peak. They were really good.”

During his halftime performance, Jack the Bulldog fell off his skateboard repeatedly. The Hoyas failed to abide by the would-be omen, and Georgetown would widen its lead to 20 in the early minutes of the second half on a free throw from sophomore guard Kaleb Johnson. From there, the Blue Jays never managed to cut the deficit below 14, and the Hoyas rode their dominant mid-game stretch to a comfortable victory.

“They scored, whatever it was, 23 points in 11 possessions to end the half, and we never recovered from that,” McDermott said.

Creighton shot 34.5 percent from the field on the day on the way to scoring only 51 points. This defensive effort elicited praise from Georgetown’s coach.

“We were very, very engaged. And as a unit, I thought we did maybe the best job we’ve done this year, or even in a couple of years, of the people off the ball anticipating what was coming next,” Thompson said.

Apart from the Hoyas’ defensive work, the Blue Jays were evidently still working out how to make up for the absence of injured senior guard Maurice Watson Jr., who had been leading the country with 8.5 assists per game before tearing his ACL in a game against Xavier (14-5, 4-3 Big East) just over a week ago.

“We’ll find out a lot about ourselves in the coming week or so. We’ve lost a good player,” McDermott said.

A Georgetown team that has struggled to rebound this year—their per game rate is tied for 118th in the nation—managed to out-rebound Creighton by 11 boards. After the game, Thompson gave credit to his guards for playing their part in the team’s rebounding advantage.

I think a lot people, when you talk about rebounding, you start talking about the big guys.  Our perimeter guys haven’t been as engaged with rebounding as they were today,” Thompson said.  “[junior guard] Jon Mulmore with six, Rodney with five and [freshman guard] Jagan [Mosely] with four. It’s easy to look and ask, ‘what [sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson] did, what did [sophomore center Jessie Govan] do, what did Akoy do, what did [graduate student Bradley Hayes] do?’ Our guards, our perimeter players, did a good job of running down the long rebounds.”

Conference play has not been kind to the Hoyas lately. The win is the Georgetown’s first in over a calendar year against a Big East opponent that is neither DePaul (8-12, 1-6 Big East) or St. John’s (10-12, 4-5 Big East).

“You go through a stretch like we’ve gone through, and I’ve heard a lot of people do this and I never have, but I just want to give God the credit and thank Him for the win,” Thompson said.

It was the Hoyas’ second win over a ranked opponent this season, and it brought them out of a last-place tie with DePaul in the Big East and into the ninth spot in the conference standings. Georgetown will soon have another chance at a win over a ranked conference foe, as the Hoyas travel to No. 11 Butler (18-3, 7-2 Big East) on Saturday. Tip-off will be at 8 p.m. Eastern time on CBS Sports.

 

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Kevin Huggard Class of '17. Formerly EIC and writer/editor for mostly sports and opinions. Halftime forever. On twitter as @kevinhuggard.


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