No. 18 Georgetown's first game as a ranked team played out much like the previous eight — flashes of brilliance that make the Hoyas capable of playing with any team in the country interspersed with maddening efforts that won't cut it once the quality of competition steps up.
The good: Georgetown opening its game against Howard with a blistering 17-0 start, making the Bison look completely overmatched as the Hoyas smothered them on defense and executed their back-door offense to perfection.
The bad: Georgetown allowing that same Howard squad, whom the crowd offered a sympathy cheer when it finally got on the board with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, to get back into the game thanks to sloppy play, poor shooting and lackadaisical effort.
Senior guard Jason Clark said earlier in the week that the Hoyas getting ranked can be one of the worst things to happen to a team, and he could not have been more prophetic.
"I think they definitely played harder than us," a somber Clark said.
After taking a punch to the gut from the Hoyas, the Bison didn't flinch the rest of the game, playing the role of aggressor in the hopes of springing their biggest upset in decades.
But Georgetown is too good and too deep to let its inconsistency rule out, even on its worst day, against a team like Howard.
However, the Hoyas' 62-48 victory Saturday at the Verizon Center may have reinforced the notion that despite an 8-1 start, there are some flaws for coach John Thompson III to address, although he wasn't completely buying into it.
"Talking about our youth would be an easy excuse for what just happened, so we're not going to do that," Thompson III said. "I honestly don't feel like we've gone through big ebbs and flows. We did today — there's no doubt — but I don't feel like that's a theme. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll have to analyze it."
The Hoyas came into the contest averaging 79.1 points per game, but could not find an offensive rhythm against a Howard defense that struggled early but locked down in the second half.
Simply put, the Hoyas' shooting touch, which was just a shade under 50 percent on the year, was nowhere to be found. Georgetown registered its worst effort from the floor this season (32.7%), as eagle-eyed shooters like Hollis Thompson (2 of 8) and Jason Clark (1 of 10) missed all manner of shots.
Freshman Otto Porter led the Hoyas with 13 points, while Thompson and Clark added 12.
"It seemed like, for long stretches there, I feel like we missed 10 layups," Thompson III said. "We missed, during the course of the game, 10-15 layups. Then we start missing foul shots. We make our layups and foul shots and it's a different game."
The Bison were more than happy to take advantage of the Hoyas' issues, stunning the Verizon crowd by closing to 42-40 with 7:30 remaining.
From there, however, Georgetown finished the game on a 20-8 run as Howard ran out of gas, unable to get the ball inbounds on several occasions and victimized by a 42-22 free-throw disparity.
"I knew the game was going to come down to free throws and turnovers," Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said. "They shot 42 free throws — we must be the fouling-est team in America."