The Hoyas struggled against the press in the second half. For the most part, though, Starks had a strong all-around game. “Markel was pretty good,” Thompson said.
Typically, so was Porter. Georgetown’s leader also had a team-high 12 rebounds. The Hoyas outrebounded the Cardinals, 34-29.
“They won the game by us not blocking out,” Pitino said.
The Cardinals’ most glaring error occurred with 3 minutes 38 seconds to play. Guard D’Vaunte Smith-Rivera missed a shot and swingman Aaron Bowen made a one-handed, over-his-head-putback basket to give the Hoyas the lead for good.
When a guy completes a highlight-tape play like that for his only points in the game, things are going well for your team in a big way. “As soon as we went in the locker room, I told him, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that,’ ” Starks said.
The Hoyas have been full of surprises lately. In their previous game, Georgetown routed then-No. 24 Notre Dame at Joyce Center, where the Fighting Irish had won 47 of 49.
Thompson has put the spotlight on the players. He attributes the Hoyas’ good stretch to better play. Effective coaching also is part of the story.
Against Louisville, Thompson wisely went with a smaller lineup. Sometimes, Thompson had four perimeter players on the court. His intent was to try to neutralize the Cardinals’ press by having the team’s best ballhandlers together. The move made sense.
“You have to handle their pressure or you’re going to lose,” Thompson said. “I wanted to just get five guys out there that can move.”
The Hoyas have a lot of room to improve.
Their offense stalled too much against Louisville (Bowen’s score was their last field goal). Their shot selection could have been better. Even with the Hoyas’ solid showing on defense, the Cardinals had the ball with 37 seconds to play and a chance to tie the score.
Fortunately for Georgetown, Siva missed a jumper and Porter grabbed the rebound with only six seconds left. “This is a very good win against an outstanding team,” Thompson said.
We’re still learning about Georgetown’s team. What we know, however, is that the Hoyas showed improvement in a good win Saturday — and no one had better try to tell Thompson otherwise.
For more by Jason Reid, visit www.washingtonpost.com/reid.