LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.
There was nothing magical about Georgetown's opening performance at Disney World.
In arguably the ugliest, sloppiest game of John Thompson III's tenure on the Hilltop, the 21st-ranked Hoyas slogged to a 58-50 survival against Wichita State in the first round of the Old Spice Classic.
If the standard for a young team is one step back for every two steps forward, Thursday's effort against the Shockers (2-2) at the Milk House qualified as the former.
Confronted with Wichita State's zone defense, the Hoyas (3-0) made just 17 field goals, missed 15 of 18 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and committed 17 turnovers against just 10 assists, the worst ratio of the JT3 era.
Defensively, Georgetown held the Shockers to just 27.9 percent shooting. But once again the Hoyas were manhandled on the boards, giving up 17 offensive rebounds to allow the smallish squad from the Missouri Valley Conference to keep the outcome in doubt until the final minute.
“It's our third game, and we have a long way to go,” said Thompson, whose charges face a much sterner test Friday in No. 12 Tennessee. “I'm hoping we can keep winning games while we're learning, but we are a work in progress.”
The Volunteers (4-0) looked much closer to a finished product in dispatching Siena 78-64 in the event's first game behind a strong showing from junior center Wayne Chism (15 points, six rebounds).
If there was a bright spot for the Hoyas, perhaps it was the second-half emergence of junior DaJuan Summers (14 points).
The 6-foot-8 forward from Baltimore entered the season as the team's only preseason All-Big East selection and was expected to pick up some of the frontcourt scoring slack created by the departure of graduated center Roy Hibbert. But through two games and the first half of Thursday, Summers had been completely overshadowed among the Hoyas' bigs by freshman center Greg Monroe (11 points, three blocks). While Monroe and sophomore swingman Austin Freeman (18 points) staked the Hoyas to a precarious 26-22 lead at intermission, Summers continued to struggle.
The slasher/shooter finished the first half scoreless, running his season-long drought from behind the arc to 0-for-7. But when the Shockers trimmed the Georgetown lead to 40-38 with 9:49 remaining, Summers finally awakened.
“DaJuan is a scorer,” Thompson said after watching Summers erupt for 14 second-half points. “His energy was better in the second half, and he came alive when we needed it.”
Summers quieted the pro-Wichita State crowd when he knocked down his first 3 of the season to put the Hoyas ahead 43-38 with 8:16 remaining. Then he added the Hoyas' final field goal of the game on an acrobatic fall-away jumper in the lane with 2:36 remaining.
“Coach has been stressing to me to keep playing hard no matter what, and that's what clicked for me in the second half,” said Summers. “In the first two games, I was kind of in a funk as well. I used to get down after starts like I had today. But instead I just kept playing harder and harder, and good things happen when you do that.”