- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2006

It’s time to call Chicken Little.

After opening the season ranked eighth in the nation and swimming in expected all-league laurels, No. 18 Georgetown dropped its second home stunner in as many weeks last night at Verizon Center.

Enduring one of its worst offensive performances under third-year coach John Thompson III, the free-falling Hoyas fell 57-50 against an Oregon team that didn’t score a single back-to-the-basket hoop all evening.

The Hoyas (4-2) have two days to figure out where they left their offense before Saturday’s road date with the Cameron Crazies and No. 11 Duke.

If the 13-point shocker against Old Dominion on Nov. 19 was as much about the Monarchs’ torrid second-half shooting as Georgetown’s shortcomings, last night’s defeat was all about the Hoyas’ desultory play.

The Hoyas had no offensive rhythm in their halfcourt sets even though each Georgetown player on the floor held a height advantage over his defender and the Ducks (6-0) employed a Princeton-offense-aiding man-to-man defense all evening.

The Hoyas played as if they expected the Ducks to wither at the sight of their blue-and-gray jerseys, superior size and higher profile. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way.

“I knew we had a long way to go [at the start of the season], but I was hoping we could work our way through some things and figure it out without losing,” Thompson said after his team committed a season-high 17 turnovers, made just one of nine attempts from behind the 3-point arc and managed just seven assists en route to a season-low scoring total. “I don’t want to take anything away from Oregon, because they did a very good job defensively. But at the same time. …

“It’s our offense. Our offense was not good. We’re tentative. We missed a lot of chippies today, and we had a lot of key turnovers.”

Georgetown players routinely stood listlessly around the perimeter, watching as the teammate with the ball dribbled aimlessly, picked up that dribble and pivoted desperately searching for a passing option.

When a Georgetown player did move without the ball, the cuts were soft, slow and made without conviction or urgency. The result was an offense that could best be described as vintage Craig Esherick Era: one-on-five aesthetic ugliness ending in a wild shot or ill-advised pass.

And Georgetown big men Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, the team’s preseason All-Big East selections and supposed strength, failed to establish themselves inside despite a significant height advantage over the diminutive Ducks.

Neither Georgetown big man scored in the first half, a remarkable feat of futility and a harbinger of the disaster to come.

The 7-foot-2, 283-pound Hibbert, checked for the better part of the game by 6-9, 215-pound Maarty Leunen, stood straight up in the post, making himself a dreadful target for teammates. And when they did manage to force the ball inside to Hibbert (four points, three rebounds), the Georgetown big man routinely failed to finish, reverting to his awkward freshman form.

“You look at how the game played out and say that Maarty did a very good job, but Roy got a number of looks inside that just didn’t go in,” Thompson said. “We got the ball two feet from the basket any number of times and couldn’t convert. I don’t think that’s typical of the way Roy has played.”

Green’s issues were less pronounced, but the 6-9 forward again looked uncomfortable away from the basket, finishing with just five points before fouling out when Georgetown shifted to its desperate hack-and-heave offense down the stretch.

Among the Hoyas principals, only point guard Jon Wallace (17 points) posted a solid performance. The heady junior from Harvest, Ala., was the only Georgetown player who didn’t look unsure how to attack Oregon’s frenetic man-to-man defense on the perimeter. Wallace repeatedly blew by his defender (typically 5-6 Oregon freshman Tajuan Porter) for easy layups, almost single-handedly staking the Hoyas to a 25-23 lead after an ugly first half.

But Wallace tired in the second half, no doubt fatigued by chasing around Oregon’s perimeter quartet of Porter (11 points), Aaron Brooks (15 points), Bryce Taylor (14 points) and Malik Hairston (eight points, six rebounds).

Taylor broke open a deadlock by scoring seven consecutive Oregon points to give the Ducks a 39-37 lead with 10:15 remaining, and Brooks took over down the stretch. The 6-foot senior scored on three consecutive Oregon possessions with the game hanging in the balance to stake the Ducks to a 55-46 lead with 1:04 remaining and cement Georgetown’s misery.

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