- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2006

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Georgetown cruised to its sixth consecutive convincing victory yesterday, dispatching Michigan 67-51 at Crisler Arena in the team’s final Big East tuneup.

“We better be ready because we have a week and then the real thing starts,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after his Hoyas (10-3) collected their sixth straight double-digit win to build momentum heading into conference play, which begins Saturday at Verizon Center against No. 19 Notre Dame. “We have a lot of things we need to tighten up here and there. … But, yeah, I think we’re ready.”

Georgetown’s final nonconference game was a perfect test on the road and against a major conference team. And the result was a testament to the current disparity between the two programs. The Hoyas did not play particularly well relative to their ceiling or Thompson’s demanding standards. But a fair performance still yielded a comfortable victory — both a tribute to Georgetown’s development and an indictment of the Wolverines (12-3), who were outclassed from the get-go by the Hoyas.

The Hoyas merely scratched the surface of their potential yesterday, holding the Wolverines to season lows in scoring and shooting (36.4 percent). Georgetown finished the game with a solid shooting percentage (52.3) and posted 18 assists on 23 field goals but missed six layups and a dunk in the first half.

Georgetown also went 6:25 in the second half without scoring and endured yet another halting performance from erratic junior forward Jeff Green. The team’s leading scorer finished with 10 points but was 0-for-6 from the field in the first half and played only 23 minutes thanks to foul trouble. He also committed three unforced turnovers.

“I’ve said from Day 1 we’re going to go as Jeff goes, but we’re getting to the point where we don’t need him to have huge games for us to win,” Thompson said. “We’re progressing to the point where we have different guys who can step up and step in.”

Despite Georgetown’s first-half domination, the Hoyas’ lead at intermission was only 31-25 thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Michigan senior guard Dion Harris (16 points). That was a particularly disconcerting fact for Georgetown given the team’s nearly flawless first-half ball movement. Among Georgetown’s 16 first-half missed shots, only one wasn’t a point-blank look or an uncontested jumper.

“We were up 10 or 11 [points] in that first half,” Thompson said. “Then they bang a 3, we have a couple of turnovers and all of a sudden it’s a six-point game. You watch tapes or TV, and the team that bangs that 3 always starts off like gangbusters in the second half. And I thought our guys were very focused at both ends at the start of the second half not to let that happen.”

Georgetown opened the second half by hitting its first four shots in an 11-0 run in the first three minutes to go ahead 42-25.

“That really doomed us,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We had done such a good job to get back to six points at the half, and then they seized momentum and really rocked us back on our heels.”

That opening sequence proved more than enough against a relatively benign Michigan roster in the midst of an identity crisis — four senior starters with underachieving careers jockeying for playing time with promising freshmen DeShawn Sims (10 points) and Ekpe Udoh (six points, two blocks).

The Hoyas now head into Big East play seemingly over the early season slump that saw them slide out of the national rankings by dropping three games in 13 days.

“We’re making strides to get back where we should be,” said junior guard Jonathan Wallace, who finished with 12 points. “This is another game that kind of checks the oil going into conference play. We’ve got some nice momentum going, and we’ve just got to maintain our focus and keep making the improvements we’ve been making during this run.”

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