- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2020

In terms of the NCAA’s two-season-old NET metric, created as a replacement for the RPI rankings that college hoops diehards used to recite around March, Georgetown entered Wednesday’s game ranked 58th in the country while Big East rival St. John’s was ranked 57th.

By halftime of their ensuing contest, it was clear NET didn’t have the best read on how closely-matched the two sides were.

Mac McClung scored 21 of his 24 points in the first half and the Hoyas used a fast start to beat St. John’s, 87-66, marking Georgetown’s first Big East victory of the season.

McClung shot an inefficient 7-for-17, but support was all around him. Five Hoyas scored in double digits, including two with double-doubles: forward Jamorko Pickett (18 points, 11 rebounds) and center Omer Yurtseven (10 points, 11 boards).

Georgetown raced out to a 53-26 halftime lead but allowed St. John’s to hang around the rest of the night. It was nonetheless the showing the Hoyas needed to have after losing their first two Big East matchups on the road, 76-60 to Providence (sans an injured McClung) and 78-62 to Seton Hall.

“Home cooking,” Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing said with a laugh. “Being back at home. I think that also helped … We had six great wins and then we went on the road and just had two horrible losses, starting the game off poorly. Today, that’s one of the things we talked about, was that we can’t dig ourselves a hole. And tonight, we didn’t.”

McClung felt the Hoyas’ defense gave rise to their opportunities on offense and helped him find a flow in the first half. Still, he wasn’t satisfied with his night all-around.

“I know I have more of a total game in me,” McClung said. “But a lot of guys stepped up, like Jamorko Pickett, man. He had a great game.”

Georgetown used runs of 10-0 and 9-2 in the first half to vault ahead. The Red Storm committed 15 turnovers in the game — and nine came in the first 11 minutes alone, allowing the Hoyas to capitalize on fast breaks and a bevy of 3-pointers. They made eight in the first half, while St. John’s only made eight field goals altogether.

St. John’s opened the second half with an urgent 11-0 run, and in less than eight minutes it had reduced the deficit to 13. But Georgetown spread its offense around and maintained enough of an advantage the rest of the way.

“(We) turned it over 12 times (in the second half) and they were able to go get baskets, so we still have to finish the game the way we need to finish if we want to continue to win games,” Ewing said.

Graduate student guard Terrell Allen scored 16 points, and senior guard Jagan Mosely added 12 with three 3-pointers along with seven rebounds.

Yurtseven left early when he took an inadvertent hit to the face that caused bleeding, but he returned midway through the first half with a bandage near his right eye.

Yurtseven only went 2-for-5 from the floor, scoring the rest of his 10 points from the charity stripe. St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said his defense focused on Yurtseven because “he draws a lot of attention,” but the Hoyas were able to move the ball to other players.

“We’re not worried about Omer getting his role,” McClung added. “I mean, they’re double-teaming him because he’s that good. So he’s gonna get his role and everything’s gonna work out.”

Still, as Ewing put it, “any win in the Big East is a good win.” Georgetown visits Villanova on Saturday before returning to host Creighton and Marquette next week.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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