- - Thursday, December 22, 2011

Faced with an opponent in Memphis whose ultimate goal was to run up and down the court, Georgetown answered with the one thing it had to do to foil that strategy — the Hoyas ran harder.

On several occasions, after made and missed baskets, Hoya players embarked on a dead sprint down the Verizon Center floor in order to stem the Tigers’ vaunted transition game, forcing Memphis into the uncomfortable position of running offensive sets.

“We wanted to get back, get back, get back and make them score in the half-court,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

The Tigers wanted to make the game a track meet. The Hoyas (10-1) turned it into a leisurely jog in a sand pit.

For 30 minutes, that worked to perfection. Memphis (6-5) had two fast-break points in the first half and only eight for the game.

“Really?” an incredulous Thompson III said upon hearing that stat. “We were pretty attentive on missed shots and made shots on getting back. They hurt us with that tremendously in Maui.”

After the Hoyas’ stifling defensive efforts produced a 20-point bulge midway through the second half, a raft of Georgetown turnovers during the final 10 minutes allowed Memphis to start pushing the pace, slicing the lead to seven.

The Hoyas, however, had been down this road with Memphis before and used their experience against the Tigers to hold on for a 70-59 triumph Thursday to complete their nonconference schedule. It was their eighth straight victory and second win of the season over Memphis.

“When we stopped their transition and when we didn’t have careless turnovers, our defense was very good for large, large stretches of tonight’s game,” Thompson III said.

Georgetown spent a large portion of practice this week preparing for Memphis’ transition game, and it showed as the Hoyas clogged passing lanes, tipped balls and smothered Tigers guards Will Barton (3 of 10) and Joe Jackson (0 of 7).

“We focused on that all week,” guard Jason Clark said. “Our defensive pressure caused them to turn the ball over more. We were in the right places in the right time.”

Clark led the Hoyas with 18 points, one of a quartet of Georgetown players who scored in double figures. He also chipped in with five rebounds as the Hoyas out-rebounded Memphis 38-29, another factor in slowing the Tigers’ attempts to change the tempo.

“When you play a team that fast-breaks like they do, you’re always nervous about getting back,” forward Hollis Thompson said.

The Hoyas head into Big East play seemingly firing on all cylinders, but Thompson III isn’t ready to make any grand statements about his team just yet.

“I don’t know if I function like that,” he said. “I don’t think I sit down at the beginning of the year and say, ‘We want to be here, we want to be there, we’re ahead, we’re behind.’ The way I work is just day-to-day.

“Let’s not think about, we want to be here at the start of Big East play. We want to understand where we’re flawed and continue to work on those flaws and get better.”


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