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January 5, 2014

Hoyas run Johnnies early

January 5, 2014 - Sometimes games are over very early, or before they even start. Yesterday's 77-60 Georgetown victory over St. John's, depending on perspective, was both.

"You don't expect, any team to have the kind of half we had in the first half", nor "the kind of game they had in the first half", said Head Hoya John Thompson III afterward of his teams early dominance. By midway through the period, his squad had a commanding 20-6 lead, this despite not having scored for two minutes.

"I thought Georgetown sustained a high level of execution, effort and physicality" was what SJU's coach, Steve Lavin, said of the carnage. "In the first half they had their way, they controlled the paint, were able to get high percentage looks. They shut us down".

In this case, numbers don't lie; G'Town shot 62.5% overall in the first period, 66.7% from three point land then, while holding the Johnnies to 21.4% and zippo (0-5), respectively. The Hoyas bested St. John's in points 42-16 in the first half, tallied 12 more assists (14-2), and managed three more rebounds.

Of course there was also the shooting of sophomore guard D'vauntes Smith-Rivera, who for the first half logged 20 points, nailing five of six three pointers, 75% of overall shots, and going 3-3 from the line.

"We knew D'Vauntes, we knew he could shoot" said SJU sophomore guard/forward Jakarr Sampson of Smith-Rivera. "We knew he could shoot. He's an improved three point shooter from last year. you know, it's his gym, and he hit the shots...We've got to know that." Smith-Rivera finished with a game high 31 points, also tying for his team's lead with six rebounds, and adding three helpers.

The second half was kinder to Lavin's crew, as despite going down as much as 33 with 13:15 to go, the Red Storm outscored G'Town 44-25, shot 56.7% and landed 40% of their three pointers during the last 20 minutes.

"It was a minus 26 in the first half, and I guess we were plus nine in the second half" said Lavin of his team's final period play. "But in this league, same old story, you've got to sustain for two halves, to give yourself a chance, to win".

SJU would finish with a 39.7% mark for the game (26.7% of three pointers). Sophomore wing Max Hooper led the Johnnies with 13 points, while Pointer tallied 11. Sophomore center Chris Obekpa had a game high seven caroms, tying teammate, junior guard D'Angelo Harrison.

The latter scored only four points, 15.6 under his average coming into the game. In fact, this is the third straight bad outing Harrison has had versus the Hoyas, to which Thompson joked "I think the stars have been aligned" in holding Harrison in check.

Georgetown was 56.1% from the field in the end, making 69.2% of three balls. Senor point guard Markel Starks joined Smith-Rivera in double figure scoring, dropping 12 points. He also pulled down six rebounds and paced the game with four assists. Both Thompson and Smith-Rivera lauded his floor generalship.

Junior wing Jabril Trawick contributed nine points and four assists. Junior center Joshua Smith tied Smith-Rivera with six, team leading rebounds, was the Hoyas' best stealer (four), scored five points, set good screens and provided energy.

Was it preparation or execution that doomed the Johnnies?

Pointer was succinct, putting the onus on SJU's players, saying "We didn't step on the court ready".

Lavin, his coach, indicated "I'd say pick everything. It's kind of a laundry list, A to Z", contributed to the loss, adding "I'm sure Coach Thompson was happy with every aspect".

Though happy with his team's first half production, Thompson was a realist about SJU in the last stanza: "The second half, they were more of the St. John's we've seen on tape and probably more like who they are".

G'Town, 10-3 overall, 2-0 in the BIG EAST next plays January 8th, when they travel to Providence. The Johnnies (9-5, 0-2) host Villanova on the 11th.

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