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Georgetown, Hibbert put on ‘clinic’
Another day. Another team. Another rout.
Hours after climbing to No. 14 in the rankings, Georgetown celebrated by notching its eighth consecutive victory, annihilating No. 23 West Virginia 71-53 last night at Verizon Center.
The victory gives the Hoyas (19-5, 9-2 Big East) the school's longest league winning streak since an eight-game run in 1988-89 and, coupled with Pittsburgh's stunning loss to Louisville last night, moves the Hoyas into a tie with the Panthers (22-4, 10-2) in the loss column atop the conference standings.
Georgetown coach John Thompson III was typically understated after his Hoyas buried yet another opponent, increasing their average margin of victory during the streak to 15.9 points. But both the statistics and West Virginia coach John Beilein did plenty of crowing for the Hoyas.
"It was a clinic," Beilein said two days after the Mountaineers (19-5, 7-5) upset No. 2 UCLA. "I can't wait to watch the film and learn what they're doing because they're terrific."
Nobody would argue after witnessing the first half last night.
Throughout its current run, Georgetown has been overwhelming opponents with its offensive efficiency. That was no different last night as center Roy Hibbert (20 points, six rebounds) and forward Jeff Green (15 points, six rebounds, five assists) continued their torrid stretch of play. The two combined for 35 points on just 18 attempts, shredding the interior of West Virginia's vaunted 1-3-1 zone.
The Hoyas made 15 of 19 shots in the first half, but last night was notable not for Georgetown's offensive efficiency. Nope, Beilein, perhaps the league's most respected strategist, called last night's performance "a clinic" because the Hoyas played frenetic and effective defense -- on just one day's rest -- against the league's most complex offense.
If Georgetown's offensive numbers in the first half were outstanding, its defensive numbers were equally remarkable:
With more than 13 minutes elapsed, West Virginia trailed 24-8.
The Mountaineers, one of the league's best shooting teams, finished the half 8-for-27. The low percentage wasn't because West Virginia was misfiring -- it was because the Hoyas simply didn't give the Mountaineers any open shots. Of West Virginia's eight first half baskets, three came in transition and two were the result of loose-ball scrambles that pulled aggressive defenders out of place.
That leaves exactly three field goals West Virginia recorded against Georgetown's base defense, a hybrid man-to-man that shifted off of every screen. And they had to earn those by hitting shots on the move over defenders.
"We didn't get any open shots," Beilein said. "They switched off of every screen. We had seen that only once all year, against The Citadel, and I think there's a little [talent] difference there. We didn't adjust to it at all in the first half, and by the time we started to in the second half, it wasn't a game."
Georgetown led 37-20 at the break, scored the first seven points after intermission and eventually led 67-37 with 5:58 remaining before Thompson pointed to the end of his bench.
"Now I know how Mike Brey felt when he came in here," Beilein said, referencing Georgetown's league-opening 66-48 victory over Brey's ranked Notre Dame squad in January. "Wow, they're not just a great offensive team, they're a great defensive one, as well. That was as impressive a team as ever [I've seen]."
The Hoyas now have the better part of the week off before playing Saturday at Villanova, which forced 22 Georgetown turnovers in a 56-52 victory at Verizon Center on Jan. 8.
"Look, we're playing very well right now, and I'm not questioning or downplaying how good we are," Thompson said. "I'm just sitting up here already nervous as [heck] about Villanova. ... It's just not time to sit back and say, 'Whew, life is good.' Because life might be awful in a couple of days if you don't take care of business."
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