Georgetown’s much-improved defensive identity is something
Providence found out about earlier this season.
The 10th-ranked Hoyas try for a season sweep of the last-place
Friars and a seventh straight win in the series Saturday night at
the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Georgetown (19-5, 9-4 Big East) is limiting opponents to 58.9
points per game for the second-best mark in the conference. The
Hoyas were 11th in that department at 66.3 a season ago.
“This year we’ve just bought into the philosophy of playing
hard, playing defense together,” said center Henry Sims, averaging
a team-high 1.5 blocks. “Being a team on the court, being able to
pick each other up on the court, being able to talk to each other
on the court. I think it’s just a different mindset, a different
environment, a different philosophy, that we’ve brought this year
as opposed to the last few years.”
Georgetown has held five Big East teams to 50 points or fewer,
including a 49-40 victory over Providence (13-14, 2-12) on Dec. 31.
The 40 points are 30 below what the Friars average this season, and
their lowest total since a 75-34 loss to Holy Cross on Dec. 11,
Providence shot 25.5 percent, yet rallied from a 14-point
deficit to tie the game at 35-all with 8:03 remaining.
“Georgetown is playing as well as anybody in the country,” coach
Ed Cooley said. “We know we’ll have our hands full. They’re a
different team than when we played them the first time. A lot of
guys have stepped up, different roles. John (Thompson III) has done
a phenomenal job with this group.”
The Hoyas seem to have better balance now on offense to
complement their strong defense. Five players reached double
figures in Sunday’s 71-61 home win over St. John’s, led by freshman
Greg Whittington’s season-high 12 points.
“I think that this group has gotten pretty good at understanding
that there are a lot of different players that can make that shot,”
The Hoyas have a huge edge with a bench that is logging 68.9
minutes per game for the Big East’s fourth-highest figure.
Providence is second-worst in that category at 39.7.
The Friars have dropped four straight. The first three defeats
of the stretch were by a combined 12 points before Wednesday’s
81-66 loss at Cincinnati.
“I think we’re playing decent basketball,” Cooley said.
“Obviously our depth issue has been a concern all year. Our lack of
numbers has shown up in a lot of games. We’re competing in every
single game, coming down to the last minute or two of the
Sophomore guard Bryce Cotton is fourth in the country with 1,039
minutes, and that may be taking its toll. Cotton is second on the
team with a 14.4 scoring average but has totaled six points on
2-of-17 shooting in his last two games after going scoreless
against the Bearcats.
Georgetown is trying to avoid losing three straight Big East
road games for the first time since a five-game slide Jan. 5-Feb.