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No. 12 Georgetown hangs on to beat Providence despite dreadful shooting day

- - Saturday, December 31, 2011

Don't expect coach John Thompson III to preserve the tapes of Saturday's game as an example of the pinnacle of Georgetown basketball.

Because the contest was an affront on all fronts — the kind of ugly game that hinged on one team being less inept than the other.

No. 12 Georgetown, coming in on a high after taking down undefeated Louisville earlier in the week, looked lost on the Verizon Center floor, its precision offense reduced to an unrecognizable morass of players in gray shirts searching for answers.

The Hoyas threw passes at impossible angles, fed the ball to the wrong shooters and found the iron extremely unkind.

It was the kind of game where sharpshooting Hollis Thompson, given a look from 3-point range with no one within 20 feet, would miss as badly as one of the poor folks pulled from the stands to take a half-court heave.

It was the kind of slugfest where Providence's Gerard Coleman, who came in averaging 16.1 points, would build this nightmarish stat line: three points on 1 of 10 from the field and 1 of 8 from the free-throw line.

And amazingly, it was the kind of game where the Friars, who came in nursing a 16-game road-conference losing streak, would slice a 13-point deficit to just 41-40 with 4:32 remaining.

Spurred by freshman rebounding machine Otto Porter, however, the Hoyas were able to close the contest on, what for this game, was an impressive 8-0 run to knock off a pesky Providence squad 49-40 and improve to 2-0 in Big East play.

For some context, the lowest combined scoring game in Big East history is 85 points, set by Providence and Boston College in 2000.

"This was just an ugly game," Thompson III said.

Georgetown raced out to a 17-4 lead against the Friars but shortly thereafter the offensive pace slowed considerably, as shots were not falling from any spot on the court. The Hoyas finished shooting a season-low 30 percent from the floor and were 3 of 19 from 3-point range.

"You're not always going to shoot the ball well," Thompson III said. "What happened to us today was earlier we were taking too many long shots, and in the second half we tried to focus on throwing it inside, and it felt like there was a lid on the basket."

Senior center Henry Sims went 2-for-13 from the floor as Providence collapsed on him in the second half when the Hoyas tried to take advantage of their size differential in the paint.

"That's Big East basketball," said Sims, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

It took Porter, who came up with a huge rebound and putback to stretch the lead to 43-40 with 4:04 left, to help the Hoyas seal the deal. Porter would finish with a game-high 15 rebounds, including another huge board with 2:13 left to extend a Georgetown possession.

"Rebounds are always important when it comes down to being tough at the end of the game," Porter said. "When we rebound well, we're going to be a pretty decent team."

Given the rugged nature of the conference, don't be surprised if the Hoyas don't find themselves in more dogfights than track meets.

"Once you get to conference play, they know exactly what we're doing, and we know exactly what they're doing," Thompson III said. "Then it comes down to who has the will and toughness to execute and make plays."