Georgetown loses 67-63 to No. 14 Kansas in Maui
John Thompson III wiped his head with a towel and plopped into a chair at the front of the room.
His young team had just played a gutty game against a good opponent, but the Georgetown coach wasn't interested in coming close. He was too concerned about the mistakes that caused the Hoyas to come up short.
Unable to stop Kansas forward Thomas Robinson or make the big plays down the stretch, Georgetown lost 67-63 to the 14th-ranked Jayhawks in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday night.
''We're not going to be singing this young team song all year. These guys are ready and can play,'' Thompson said. ''We have to take care of our business a little better. Maybe it is a function of being young, I don't know, but we have to take care of our business better in key parts of the game.''
Kansas played well when it needed to.
Robinson had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Tyshawn Taylor added 16 and the Jayhawks came up with the key plays in the closing seconds to move into the semifinals against UCLA on Tuesday.
''We handled adversity really good and hit some big shots,'' Taylor said. ''We kept our composure.''
Playing in front of a largely pro-Kansas crowd inside Lahaina Civic Center, the Jayhawks (2-1) found a way to win against a team that wasn't about to back down.
Travis Releford made the biggest plays, getting his hand on a steal that set up a layup by Elijah Johnson, then sinking two free throws with 15 seconds left. Releford ended the game with a heady play, diving for a loose ball after a miss by the Hoyas, then calling timeout to make sure the Jayhawks maintained possession.
''Travis made about three great plays for us to ice the win,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ''He did a lot of good things late. He needed that individually and we needed that, too.''
Kansas' closing stretch was part of what frustrated Thompson III.
The Hoyas (2-0) kept up with the Jayhawks most of the way, hitting one big shot after another each time Kansas went on a run. Georgetown just couldn't stop Robinson from getting to the rim - he had at least a half-dozen dunks - and came up just short when Jason Clark's 3-pointer with 5 seconds left was offline.
Clark led Georgetown with 15 points and Hollis Thompson had 14.
''It's frustrating,'' Thompson III said. ''The things that we can control, we should control. We're going to play against a lot of good teams that are going to do things where there's nothing you can do, but there are a few things we can control.''
Kansas was picked by the Big 12's coaches as co-favorites to win its eighth consecutive conference title along with Texas A&M, despite losing Marcus and Markieff Morris, Josh Selby and several other key players from last season.
That was a surprise to Self, particularly after his highly regarded recruiting class was trimmed in half to three before the season even started.
Kansas lost forward Braeden Anderson due to the Big 12's policy on partial qualifiers, and questions about the trnscripts of shooting guard Ben McLemore and forward Jamari Traylor made them ineligible.
Still, the Jayhawks are talented, led by Robinson and Taylor.
Kansas opened the season as it almost always does, by stomping an overmatched opponent, in this case a 46-point win over Towson State. The young Jayhawks got a quick dose of reality in their second game, though, unable to keep up with No. 2 Kentucky in a 75-65 loss last Tuesday.
Kansas got off to a shaky start offensively against Georgetown, missing eight of its first 12 shots, including a breakaway dunk by Robinson that clanged off the back of the rim.
The Jayhawks settled down after that, though, getting an alley-oop dunk from Justin Wesley and a 3-pointer by Conner Teahen to go up 35-29 late in the first half.
But, as a young team tends to do, Kansas kept following good spurts with bad ones.
The Jayhawks went into a funk after the first-half run, allowing Georgetown to get within two at halftime. Kansas tried to pull away to start the second half and started fumbling balls away as the Hoyas fought back, before the Jayhawks finally pulled out the win with one final spurt.
''I thought we played hard and played smart, for the most part,'' Self said.
Kansas looks like a veteran team compared to Georgetown.
The Hoyas lost three starters and a pair of role players from a team that won 21 games and lost to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament. That leaves Georgetown with a roster of 10 underclassmen to go with Thompson, Clark and Henry Sims.
But the Hoyas are resilient, rallying together after a brawl with a Chinese team in Beijing over the summer, and play that hard-to-guard version of the Princeton offense that Thompson III installed.
Georgetown needed its resiliency after struggling early.
The Hoyas went nearly four minutes before scoring their first points and missed 11 of their first 15 shots. Georgetown finally started to get a few shots to drop, let Kansas go on a run after that and fought back, getting a pair of late 3-pointers by Thompson and one by Otto Porter at the buzzer to stay within 37-35.
The Hoyas continued to fight back, but couldn't come up with the big plays down the stretch. They fell just short after a gutty effort from a young team.