Nate Lubick is difficult to miss.
The soft-spoken forward on Georgetown’s basketball team is built like an NFL tight end. At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Lubick specializes in the dirty, bruising work in the post.
But the ex-Parade All-American’s sophomore season has been fraught with inconsistency. Since Big East play started, Lubick has scored three points or less six times and pulled down three rebounds or less six times.
So, when Georgetown’s offensive stalwarts Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson drew an everything-but-the-kitchen sink defense from St. John’s on Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center, Lubick was an unlikely solution. But no one in the sedate crowd missed Lubick’s statistics sheet-stuffing afternoon as No. 12 Georgetown emerged with a 71-61 victory.
“We were a little sluggish coming out on both ends,” Lubick said, “so I wanted to come out and bring a little energy on both ends.”
Lubick’s outing — seven points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots — isn’t going to land him on the television highlight shows. Instead, his 27 productive minutes revealed a versatile player Georgetown needs if it is to make a run in next month’s postseason.
“He did what he’s supposed to do, and when he does that, we’re pretty good,” Clark said. “We’ve got to hone in and focus on everything we’re supposed to do. The biggest thing is defense and playing hard. We’re hard to beat when we do that.”
In last week’s three-point overtime loss at Syracuse, Lubick played a season-low seven minutes. He wasn’t a significant factor clogging the paint or pulling down rebounds as Georgetown nearly took down the country’s No. 2 team.
Against the all-freshman starting five of St. John’s, Lubick seemed to be everywhere.
Georgetown (19-5 overall, 9-4 Big East) never trailed against the St. John’s squad hammered in its previous two games by a combined 47 points. But until the final minutes Sunday, Georgetown couldn’t shove away the scrappy effort of St. John’s (10-15, 4-9). Each time the game looked to slip out of reach, St. John’s freshman Moe Harkless sliced to the hoop for an easy layup or fellow freshman D’Angelo Harrison sank another 3-pointer.
Lubick helped Georgetown stay in front. Such as his offensive rebound to set up Clark’s key layup — and unusually emotive fist-pump — with 3:14 remaining. Or assisting on Markel Starks’ 3-pointer and Thompson’s layup midway through the second half. Or swatting away Harkless’ jumper and Phil Greene’s would-be layup in the final minutes.
“Nate’s hustle today gave us a lot of energy,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “His effort was very good, and we needed it.”
Freshman Greg Whittington led Georgetown with 12 points in 25 minutes off the bench, one of five Hoyas to score in double figures.
Dunlap’s approach worked, as Thompson faced an occasional box-and-one defense and both players fought through constant face-guarding. They combined for 21 points but were 2-for-11 from 3-point range. The defense’s laser-focus, however, allowed Lubick to roam free.