Men’s Basketball Rebounds, Pickett and Blair Star As Ewing Debuts Small-Ball Lineup

December 8, 2020

Photo by John Picker/The Georgetown Voice

The Georgetown men’s basketball team continued non-conference play on a high Tuesday evening, dispatching Coppin State 80-48. Seniors Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair featured in the win, with Pickett exerting particular dominance with 19 points and 18 rebounds on 8-11 shooting. After a turnover-laden start, the Hoyas (2-2, Big East) executed ruthlessly in the final 30 minutes, converting 54.7% of their field goals on the night overall.

“It was definitely great to get back on track,” head coach Patrick Ewing said. “We can’t turn the ball over [like tonight] against good teams though.”

Blair, who will have the ball in his hands frequently this season, struggled in the early offings as former Maryland star Juan Dixon’s Eagles (0-4, MEAC) maintained a slight advantage. Many of the Hoyas’ 26 turnovers were the result of forced passes and simple errors in the half-court offense, while Coppin State sophomore guard Chereef Knox knocked down a pair of open three-point looks.

As the opening half wore on, however, Pickett transitioned toward more of a roaming role picking holes in the Coppin State zone defense, and the Hoyas saw immediate dividends. Showing a look that trotted out Pickett and graduate student forward Chudier Bile in the 4 and 5 roles, Pickett, Blair, and Bile all canned three-pointers as GU finished the half on a 23-5 run to open up a fifteen-point lead. Unfortunately, freshman guard Kobe Clark exited with an injury around the ten-minute mark and would not return to the contest.

“Having me, (senior guard) Don (Carey), or Chudi out on the wing,” Pickett said, “I think that rattled them a lot.”

At the break, the trio of Pickett, Blair, and Bile had 28 of the Hoyas’ 38. Despite thirteen turnovers, the Hoyas were well positioned to close the game out in the second half, as the Eagles shot a miserable 9-of-35 from the field, including 4-of-19 from deep. A better offensive attack from the visitors could have put GU in a tough hole early, but give the Blue & Gray credit for working for better looks of their own.

Pickett showed great assertiveness to begin the second half in the stretch that ultimately put the game to rest. He rose high above the Eagles defense on his confident pullup and three-point attempts, while thundering in two dunks and crashing the glass hard. An impressive nine-point stretch from Blair was bookended by two assists from the Canadian to Bile and Dante Harris, the latter for the first three-pointer of the freshman guard’s career.

“The last two games have been a rough two games,” Blair said, referencing losses to Navy and West Virginia. “Tonight we were just getting out and pushing the ball…I was feeling good.”

Though the Hoyas’ turnover issues persisted as more inexperienced players were inserted, they never allowed Coppin State back into the game, ceding only two offensive rebounds after halftime. Freshmen TJ Berger and Jamari Sibley made their debuts in the final ten minutes, with Berger knocking down a corner three off a feed from Harris in what Hoya fans will hope can become a connection to mark down for the future.

Sophomore center Timothy Ighoefe, who had averaged 15 minutes per game in the Hoyas’ 1-2 start, did not feature despite fellow sophomore big Qudus Wahab playing 23 of 40 available minutes. However, it’s worth pointing out that Coppin State was undersized to begin with, and Wahab mostly rested in the second half with the game’s outcome nearly secured.

“They were trying to spread us out and shoot the 3 against Q,” Ewing said of the strategy, “So we went zone, went 5 smalls, switched everything.” Ewing said “I hope” the five-small lineup won’t become a fixture.

Georgetown returns to action on Friday evening for their conference opener with a Friday night date against Villanova (4-1, Big East). The game tips off at 7PM ET in McDonough Arena with television coverage on FS1 and live stats available at Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for coverage of all Hoyas athletics.

Will Shanahan
is a senior in the McDonough School of Business, and former Sports Executive and Editor of The Voice. He spends his days plotting visits to downstairs Leo's when the omelet line will be short and trying to recall memories of his middling high school football career.

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