John Thompson III stays focused on Georgetown amid Big East transformation

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The Hoyas (4-1) will get their second shot at an SEC foe, after the season opener against Florida was called at halftime due to moisture on the USS Bataan. The Volunteers (4-1) have had close games in nearly all of their nonconference wins and a big loss against their lone “name” opponent of the season, Oklahoma State.

But Tennessee does present a challenge given its up-tempo style and solid front line.

“We have to get back,” Porter said. “Once the ball goes up, everyone has to get to the boards, but we also have to get back in transition. Keying on that will help us a lot in this game. We have to play good defense. We’ve played against big guys before and we can defend them.”

Sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes is averaging 15.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists to lead the Volunteers, with junior guard Trae Golden chipping in with another 5.2 assists. Trying to get a handle on those players, not the latest in conference machinations, is what Thompson is most concerned about right now.

“It’s important stuff that’s going on,” Thompson admitted. “But you can become so engrossed with that that you really do forget about Tennessee. If you spend ‘X’ amount of hours over the last 24-48 hours focusing on conference issues, you forget about the fact that Stokes is pretty darn good and we’re going to have our hands full trying to stop him and that Golden is outstanding and he does a good job of facilitating.

“It’s a part of what we’re going through, but I think that’s evolution. It hasn’t finished. I think there’s going to be more evolution as it relates to basketball-only conference members as well as others.”

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