- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 10, 2006

After a somewhat soporific start to the season, Georgetown center Roy Hibbert played like a man possessed yesterday against Oral Roberts. The 7-foot-2, 278-pound junior strapped the Hoyas to his broad back during the game’s opening half and carried Georgetown to a 73-58 victory, which was never in doubt.

“He was just incredible,” Georgetown forward Jeff Green said after his pivot partner traumatized the visitors for game highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. “He did the little things — rebounds, assists. Whenever we got it down to him, he either hit the open guy or scored. When he starts the way he did tonight, that’s big for us, because we follow him. He’s our emotional leader, and when he gets it going like that, it gets us fired up.”

Maligned for his somewhat passive play against routinely undersized post defenders thus far this season, Hibbert looked like a totally different player against the Golden Eagles (4-4), a team that knocked off then-No. 3 Kansas (78-71) in Lawrence less than a month ago. When Oral Roberts attempted to check Hibbert with just one man (6-10 center Shawn King), Hibbert immediately attacked. In roughly three minutes, King had two fouls.

Hibbert used an arsenal of dunks, tips, short flips and baby hooks to post 15 points by halftime.

“Hibbert was terrific. We couldn’t stop him. Obviously, he’s going to be a pro,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said after watching the Hoyas (6-3) march to a 40-20 halftime advantage behind their preseason All-Big East center. “He posted up a lot more than what we’d seen on film. He looked a lot more aggressive. And they did a very good job of getting him the basketball. … It’s hard to believe that team has lost two games at home.”

The Hoyas lost those two games (to Old Dominion and Oregon), falling out of the top 10, largely because Hibbert and Green struggled at the season’s outset to embrace the scoring void left by departed seniors Ashanti Cook, Brandon Bowman and D.J. Owens. Green broke out of his early season mini-slump in Tuesday’s pasting of James Madison. And Hibbert followed suit yesterday, playing with more intensity than in any game of his career.

Hibbert dispensed with the finesse fixation that defined his first eight games this season. Three times in the first half alone, Hibbert collected passes in the post and exploded over or through his defender for jams.

“My teammates have been getting on me about not finishing, dunking in practice but not in games. So whenever I got it, I tried to go hard right at the rim,” said Hibbert, who wanted another shot at Oral Roberts after the Golden Eagles dropped the Hoyas 81-63 in Hawaii during his freshman season. “They got us in Hawaii, so we wanted to get back at them. We wanted to hit them hard and early.”

Oral Roberts didn’t totally disappear after the first-half rout, crawling back into the game behind the determined play of senior forward Caleb Green (15 points, seven rebounds) and the outside shooting of senior guard Ken Tutt (21 points). But for the most part, the Hoyas did a commendable job on Green, the two-time Mid-Continent Conference MVP.

Using a handful of different defenders on the 6-8, 255-pound Green, Georgetown primarily defended the Golden Eagles with a 2-3 trapping zone, a defense made doubly effective by Georgetown’s extreme length on the wings (Jeff Green and DaJuan Summers). ORU’s Green, swallowed up repeatedly in the middle of the zone by multiple defenders, finished the game just 5-for-15 shooting with five turnovers.

Though the Golden Eagles never surrendered, the Hoyas never let the visitors trim the massive halftime margin to single digits and closed the game out in spite of some rather sloppy ball-handling (19 turnovers).

“We’re all growing,” said Hibbert, whose Hoyas have several days off for exams before returning to the court Saturday against Winston-Salem State. “At the end of the year we’re going to be a much different team than the one we were at the beginning of the year.”

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