- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Georgetown cleansed its palate on a little purple sorbet last night at Verizon Center, purging the bitterness of last week’s two-game losing streak with an offensive eruption against undersized James Madison.

The Hoyas exorcised the offensive demons that dogged them in back-to-back losses to Oregon and Duke with an 89-53 thrashing of the visiting Dukes. The Hoyas tied a school record, making 16 3-pointers.

On Saturday, Georgetown (5-3) plays host to Oral Roberts, which dropped the Hoyas two seasons ago behind the play of dynamic forward Caleb Green and already has beaten No. 12 Kansas this season.

“The ball went in tonight,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after watching his Hoyas shoot 58.2 percent from the field and match the arc assault they carried out against Davidson two seasons ago by hitting 16 of 33 attempts from behind the 3-point line. “At the end of the day, this game is about making shots. When we’re making shots, we’re pretty hard to guard.”

The Dukes (2-5) apparently left their defense in Harrisonburg. But last night, it wouldn’t have mattered. Spurred by last week’s consecutive losses and their resulting tumble out of the national rankings, the Hoyas dismantled the purple-clad visitors.

Undoubtedly annoyed by his slow start to the season, Georgetown junior forward Jeff Green (17 points, five assists) wasted no time putting his personal stamp on last night’s proceedings. Labeled as overly tentative by everyone from fans and broadcasters to his own coach during the season’s opening weeks, Green set the tone last night.

After controlling the opening tip, Green spun past his defender to score the game’s first basket. The 6-foot-9 forward from Hyattsville spent the next five minutes maintaining his dizzying impact pace, notching 10 points and two assists on Georgetown’s first nine possessions. The Hoyas took a 19-7 lead.

“I struggled with my shooting in our last two games, and I needed to come out quick and establish myself and my confidence tonight,” said Green, who played without a tentative streak for perhaps the first time since Georgetown’s victory at Vanderbilt on Nov. 15. “I think we were all a little antsy and hesitant against Duke and Oregon because we didn’t want to make mistakes. Tonight, I think we played loose, and that was the key. We made passes we know we can make. We took shots we know we can make. We just played ball.”

Thompson said after the game he had urged Green to be more assertive. And Green certainly complied against the Dukes. After repeatedly passing up open looks from the outside against Oregon and Duke, Green made 3-pointers on two of the team’s first six possessions.

Green’s play was infectious. The Hoyas penetrated James Madison’s defense at will, inside and outside, with passes and off the dribble, against man or zone.

Point guard Jonathan Wallace (14 points, five assists) made four of his team’s 3-pointers. Backcourt mate Jessie Sapp (15 points, five assists) added three more 3-pointers and moved brilliantly without the ball all night. Freshman Vernon Macklin posting eight points and a career-high five assists.

Georgetown shot a torrid 63 percent in the first half en route to 47-29 lead and then doubled the visitors (88-44) late in the second half with similarly instinctive offensive play. Shooting and sharing with the kind of amazing proficiency that has been missing all season, the Hoyas finished with a season-high 27 assists on 32 field goals while committing just eight turnovers.

“We are improving. This team is coming together, knock on wood,” Thompson said after the Hoyas’ highest scoring output of his career. “We’re growing on both ends of the floor. It’s been a rough week or so, but I think this team is moving in the right direction.”

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