- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2005

No heroics necessary.

Georgetown cruised past St. John’s 66-57 last night at MCI Center in a game that was never in question after intermission, quite a change from its four other single-digit Big East victories, three of which were decided in gut-twisting, last-second fashion.

The Hoyas (13-5, 5-2 Big East), who are in sole possession of third place in the Big East, now have three days to prepare for a Saturday showdown at unbeaten Boston College (16-0, 5-0).

“I want to be better Saturday than we were today,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose Hoyas have won five of their last six and eight of 10. “Our guys are getting a feel, and that’s how it should be. But we’re still thinking too much about things that should be second nature. … Boston College is tough. It’s up there. And they systematically, methodically, a little bit like we have this year, find ways to win games.”

Last night’s battle between the league’s two first-year coaches was lopsided from the midpoint of the first half. The Georgetown defense forced Red Storm gunner Daryll “Showtime” Hill into a season-high nine turnovers and gradually pulled away from St. John’s (7-9, 1-5) behind superb efforts from forwards Jeff Green (21 points, nine rebounds) and Brandon Bowman (14 points, five steals).

The Hoyas’ slow start again was a product of Thompson’s commitment to giving starting minutes to the development of 7-foot-2 freshman Roy Hibbert. Georgetown fell behind 12-6 with Hibbert in the lineup, stagnating at the offensive end as the raw big man had trouble maintaining the precision and quick-passing rhythm needed to execute Thompson’s Princeton-based scheme. As usual, Hibbert displayed some flashes of a promising future, but last week’s Big East rookie of the week was generally ineffective against a smaller, quicker Red Storm lineup that featured 6-9, 238-pound Lamont Hamilton (14 points, four blocks) in the pivot.

When Hibbert left the game at the 13:14 mark of the first half, passing off his focal triggerman duties to Green, the Hoyas instantly surged past the Red Storm, scoring on seven of eight possessions to claim a 24-23 lead with 6:35 remaining on a steal and scintillating court-cruising finger roll by Green that provoked a satisfied gasp of appreciation from an otherwise-subdued crowd of 7,864.

The Hoyas led 31-27 at the half and then executed their offense to near-perfection after intermission, shooting 54.2 percent from the field and claiming a double-digit lead they never came close to relinquishing on a 3-pointer by junior guard Ashanti Cook (13 points) with 11:20 remaining.

“We have to stop having these slow starts,” said Cook, who drilled three of his six bombs from behind the arc and dogged Hill from baseline to baseline. “I’m just doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”

Hill, who entered the game as the league’s leading scorer (20.9 points), still nearly equaled his average last night. But not only did Cook and the Hoyas’ swarming help defense turn Hill into a showstopping human turnover, he needed 20 attempts to book his 20-point night. His last seven points came in the final 2:02 after the Hoyas had stormed out to a 16-point margin. St. John’s coach Norm Roberts left little doubt as to his thoughts on his standout’s turnover-ridden evening.

“I don’t call him ‘Showtime,’” a straight-faced Roberts said. “I call him Daryll because that’s what his mother calls him.”

The relative blowout was a welcome relief for Thompson and Co. after their first six league games were decided by seven points or fewer and their four victories were by a total of just 13 points. Less than halfway into their conference slate, the Hoyas already have won one more Big East game than they did last season.

“I feel that we’re playing very well right now, but we still need to get a lot better,” Cook said. “There’s still a lot of season left. … I think the main thing we need to work on right now is our rebounding.”

If there was a blemish last night, it was Georgetown’s effort on the boards. The Hoyas yielded 21 offensive rebounds, allowing the Red Storm to maintain relative contact in a game that otherwise would have been a rout.

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