On Saturday at 12:00 p.m. ET, the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team takes the court at Capital One Arena for their second game of the year. Their opponents will be the Central Arkansas Bears, who lost their opener 105-61 to Baylor on Tuesday. The Hoyas, meanwhile, escaped with a 81-68 victory against Mount St. Mary’s in their season debut on Wednesday. After looking helpless for 25 minutes and falling behind by 19 at one point, the Blue & Gray put together a 20-1 run en route to a comeback win. Lots of credit should be given to sophomore guard James Akinjo, who led the GU attack with 20 points and five assists.
“I thought that this was one of his best games since he’s been here,” Head Coach Patrick Ewing said of Akinjo’s performance. “He was stepping up, making shots, and playing great defense. He played an all-around game.”
The Hoyas (1-0, Big East) stumbled early due to their poor offensive execution against a robust Mountaineer defense. Sophomore guard Vado Morse and junior guard Jalen Gibbs were the standout Mountaineers on the offensive end, finishing with 18 and 19 points, respectively and were also a large reason for a big MSMU lead. 2:34 into the second half, Mount St. Mary’s held a 46-27 lead, but from then on it was all Hoyas, who outscored the Mountaineers 54-22 for the remainder of the game. In addition to the performance by reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Akinjo, several other Hoyas finished solid stat lines. Sophomore guard Mac McClung racked up 16 points on 6-9 shooting and junior forward Jamorko Pickett grabbed eight boards, but perhaps the most anticipated appearance of the day was senior center Omer Yurtseven. The Turkish big man did not disappoint, and despite struggling in the first half, finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double in his Hoya debut.
Central Arkansas was never quite in the game in their season opening loss and were simply outmatched by Baylor’s athletes. One of few bright spots was junior guard Rylen Bergerson, who scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds in his Bears debut. Bergerson transferred from BYU, where he averaged 2.5 points last year. Also of note are junior center Hayden Koval and junior point guard DeAndre Jones, who both averaged 12.5 points per game last year, tops among returning Bears. The big man matchup will be one to keep an eye on, as Yurtseven and Koval both check in with heights of 7-0.
A big storyline coming into Saturday is the status of sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc. The 2018-19 Big East All-Freshman selection was suspended due to a violation of team rules and did not play on Wednesday. Whether or not LeBlanc plays on Saturday will be a point of high anticipation.
The Hoyas will need to start off strong in order to avoid another scare at home against a team with a KenPom ranking over 200. It will be important for Akinjo and McClung to get the ball moving on offense and involve Yurtseven down low, and the Hoyas will likely implement the full-court press that was so successful in the second half on Wednesday.
Saturday’s game will be televised on MASN2 with radio coverage at The Team 980. Live stats are available at guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for live coverage and coverage of all sports on the Hilltop.