January 1, 2014 - The 2013-2014 Georgetown Hoyas are widely considered driven by its backcourt. Before last night senior point guard Markel Starks led the way, pacing the team in assists, minutes, and running a close second in scoring. After his 21 point performance in the team's 61-54 BIG EAST opening, home win over DePaul last night, Starks leads the team in scoring as well (16.3 ppg).
As to be expected, when the Hoyas needed him most, he delivered; with G'Town holding a tenuous 48-24 lead at just 6:55 in regulation, Starks took over, scoring back to back layups and finding junior forward Mikael Hopkins for a layup. The resulting 12 point lead was too much for the Blue Demons to surmount.
"Opportunities were there. Took advantage of it" said Starks afterward of his offensive aggressiveness. He went to note of that and urging teammates, like one memorable instance involving junior forward Mikael Hopkins who missed a makeable shot, "I can do both...We needed to win. Like Coach (John Thompson III) said we went through a couple of lapses, throughout the duration of the game. We can't have that, especially with a team like DePaul. You know, teams in the BIG EAST".
After lamenting missed second half free throws - his team finished knocking down 37.5% of their free throws in that stanza - key in their 50% game mark - DePaul's head coach Oliver Purnell dapped the Blue and Grey, saying "You have to give Georgetown credit, they hung in there and they did what they had to do on their home court to kind of protect serve".
For a large swath of the first half, his backcourt of senior Brandon Young and freshman Billy Garrett, Jr., to loosely use another tennis term, looked as if they would cause a Hoya double fault, shooting and finishing at the rim. Garrett led the Blue Demons with 17 points and three assists, while Young's 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals were also impactful. Both players' first half work - Garrett's eight points, Young's seven - were instrumental in the Blue Demon's eight point lead that period.
Over that stanza's final 3:23 the Hoyas got four free throws from Starks (finishing 8-8 for the game), a three ball via sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (12 points, eight rebounds), and junior guard Jabril Trawick's layup (eight points, four boards). The energy and five points, including buzzer beating three pointer from senior wing Aaron Bowen more or less sealed the period stanza for G'Town, helping create their 29-25 halftime lead, as did the Hoyas' full court pressure and presence of senior center Moses Ayegba.
Bowen tallied eight points and six rebounds, while senior forward Nate Lubick led the game with seven caroms. Georgetown shot 46.7% from the field, 33.3% on three pointers, and sank only 55.6% of charity stripers.
DePaul was an abysmal 32.7% overall, and was worse from beyond the arc (26.3%). Standout senior wing Cleveland Melvin accounted for six points on 2-12 shooting, over 10 points under his previous average, to which Purnell said "That's not what we expect from Cleveland, nor is that what we need to win a game like this". He added better ball security to Cleveland's production and the team's foul shooting when running off reasons for defeat.
Up next for G'Town (9-3, 1-0 in league) is a Saturday, 1p home tilt with St. John's. Click here for tickets.
DePaul (8-6, 0-1) travels to Marquette, and tips at the same time.
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