Georgetown wakes up in the second half

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Sports,College,Brian McNally

Mount St. Mary's remains close until a late run

It is easy to get excited to play established college basketball powers in front of a capacity crowd at a gleaming new arena in New York City.

Georgetown showed well earlier this week in a win against No. 11 UCLA and a thrilling overtime loss to top-ranked Indiana at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But the season isn't always about testing yourself against the blue bloods. You have to take care of the Mount St. Mary's of the world, too.

Fla. talks continue
Georgetown coach John Thompson III said Saturday that his school remains in talks with Florida to finish their canceled season-opener played on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla., on Nov. 9. Condensation on the court made play impossible after halftime. "But there's so many moving parts as it relates to that," Thompson said. "Where? A full game, a half game? ... I think we're both interested. We scheduled that game not just because of the involvement of the Navy, but we'd like to have it." Thompson said the game would have to happen between Christmas and when Big East play begins Jan. 5, so the time frame to resolve those issues is tight. - Brian McNally

The Hoyas eventually did that Saturday afternoon in a 72-50 victory over the Mountaineers before a sleepy crowd at Verizon Center. But it was well into the second half before they finally overwhelmed Mount St. Mary's and pulled away. Consider it just another lesson learned for a team full of underclassmen, most of whom are still adjusting to key roles.

"I don't know if the guys didn't believe the coaches when we told them that's what's going to happen," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "We kind of came out just going through the motions. I didn't recognize the team that was on the court."

The Mount St. Mary's game came smack in the middle of a post-Thanksgiving holiday break -- after the Indiana and UCLA games and before two intriguing nonconference matchups against Tennessee on Friday and then Texas on Dec.?4. The potential for a lack of focus was there. And it showed in the first half when Georgetown committed 11 turnovers and nursed a small lead for most of the opening 20 minutes until heading into the locker room up just 34-32. The Mountaineers (1-3) made six 3-point shots in the first half alone and committed just four turnovers to keep themselves in the game.

"Just communicating about picking up the intensity as soon as we walked into the locker room," said Hoyas forward Otto Porter Jr., who tied teammate Greg Whittington with a game-high 17 points. "We knew that we had to come out and compete [in the second half] with those guys."

Thompson's message got through to his players in the second half. They guarded the 3-point line better, turning easy Mount St. Mary's jumpers into contested shots. The Mountaineers made just one of their 10 3-point attempts in the second half. Once those stopped falling, Georgetown took advantage on the other end. The game was still tight late -- a 50-44 Hoyas lead with just 8:29 remaining. And there were six more turnovers in the second half for a disappointing 17 total.

But Georgetown (4-1) closed with a 22-6 run to put the game out of reach and likely secure an AP Top 25 ranking when the new polls come out this week. It wasn't a beauty -- but wins don't all have to be at this time of year. Thompson understood there would be a Brooklyn hangover, though he wouldn't excuse it, either, as Whittington and Porter looked on sheepishly at the podium during their postgame news conference.

"Yeah -- but so what? That's easy to say," Thompson said. "We've got to get to a level of mental focus to where that does not happen, to where you know each and every time you step on the court that it's special."

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner