NCAA

Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next

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Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next

Inconsistent play combined with a missing sense of urgency during season-opening wins over Duquesne and Liberty proved obvious without Georgetown's head coach and players later concurring. Having All-American candidate Otto Porter for only six minutes in one game and out entirely in another did not help. An admitted case off the look ahead's with a matchup against a ranked UCLA on the horizon, also not helpful.

With Porter back and the UCLA contest on the day's agenda, the Hoyas (3-0) performance against the Bruins Monday night went the way of famed wrestler Bret Hart: excellence of execution.

The prize for turning in an impressive 78-70 win in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn? Georgetown faces top-ranked Indiana on Tuesday. Playing in the other semifinals, the Hoosiers, downed Georgia 66-53 despite an off scoring night from National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller.

There was little off about Porter and the Hoyas, who led 31-29 at halftime, surged ahead with a 12-0 run opening the second half before putting the game away with another late run in the final minutes. Markel Starks paced four double-digit scorers with 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting, Greg Whittington tallied 13 points with three 3-pointers and the Hoyas shot 54.5 percent from the field.

However, it's no coincidence the stepped up effort followed Porter's return. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, three steals and sank both of his 3-point attempts. That's some serious stat stuffing, that's why scouts view the sophomore as a potential lottery pick.

Another dose of hot shooting and do-everything play from Porter and the other Hoyas will be required for the clash against Indiana (4-0). After missing a plethora of 3-pointers early on against Georgia, the Hoosiers found their range, particularly guard Jordan Hulls, who drained 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points in the 66-53 win over the Bulldogs.

Zeller, considered by many the top returning player in the country, finished with only six points. Don't count on consecutive bad nights offensively for the skilled 7-footer, though the Hoyas have tons of length they can throw at the Player of the Year candidate. Upper Marlboro native Victor Oladipo paced Indiana with 15 points.

Three thoughts heading into tonight's showdown with Indiana, the first meeting between the two traditional basketball powers since the 1979-80 season.

* The Hoyas length, especially when Georgetown coach John Thompson III employs at least four 6-foot-8 players on the court at the same time in his zone defense, can be an intoxicating visual. Though the Hoosiers shot 5 of 16 from beyond the arc versus Georgia, they are knocking down 3's at a 38 percent clip. Winner of this matchup likely wins the game.

*Before Monday night, Starks' career game came last Dec. 28 at then No. 4 Louisville when the then sophomore guard made 7 of 8 shots for a career-high 20 points in a Georgetown win. That player has rarely showed up since. In the following 20 games including the opening two this season, Starks had not topped 11 points. More than simply tallying points, the chatty guard often played with more bark than bite. That led to fewer minutes in spots as last season progressed and raised some concern about the Hoyas backcourt this season considering the youth behind Starks. Against UCLA, the aggressive and confident version showed, one that also finished with a career-high four steals. More of that against Indiana would go a long way toward a Georgetown triumph.

* Effective inside and on the break, Zeller shot 62 percent from the field while averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds last season as a freshman. Mere stats did not define Porter's strong freshman campaign. They won't during his second year on the Hilltop either, they we can already see the numbers growth potential from Georgetown's de facto point guard. While not paired in a direct matchup, no doubt comparisons between the equally instinctive sophomore' become part of the game's backdrop. Giddy up.

Guy drops 29 points in Virginia's win over VCU

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USA Today Sports Images

Guy drops 29 points in Virginia's win over VCU

Kyle Guy scored 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes Friday, leading Virginia to a 76-67 victory against VCU.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes and Virginia (3-0) saw its lead trimmed to three at 63-60 with five minutes left. Neither team scored for the next two minutes before Guy came off a screen right in front of the Cavaliers' and doubled their lead.

Issac Vann made it 66-62 with a driving basket for VCU (2-1), but Guy hit a pair of free throws and Jerome followed with a 3-pointer.

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Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU's pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 12-5 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Saint Louis tops Virginia Tech behind Bess' 22 points

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Saint Louis tops Virginia Tech behind Bess' 22 points

NEW YORK -- Character was the theme espoused by Saint Louis coach Travis Ford and Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams.

Ford praised his team's ethos, as opposed to Williams, who wondered about his squad's makeup.

"What haunts me is our character was revealed in how we played," Williams said after Saint Louis topped Virginia Tech, 77-71, in the opening round of the 2K Classic on Thursday night.

"This was the first time I was caught off-guard," Williams said.

Javon Bess scored 22 points and Jordan Goodwin added 19 for Saint Louis (3-0).

"All week in practice we worked on getting back in transition," Goodwin said. "Make sure we help each other out. We take pride in our defense. Sometimes the offense might not go but every night we guard we're going to be there every play."

Despite getting a career-high 26 points from Ahmed Hill, Virginia Tech fell to 2-1. Justin Bibbs scored 15 in his first game of the season after sitting out the first two games for disciplinary reasons. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 10 before fouling out.

"They were tougher than us from start to finish," Williams said. "I didn't think we were ever in the fight. I don't think we were ever in the mix."

The eighth all-time matchup between the Atlantic 10 and Atlantic Coast Conference programs was taut as St. Louis' 61-49 advantage with 7:57 left was the largest lead for either team.

On the strength of an 11-3 run, though, Virginia Tech cut the deficit to 64-60. Four points is as close as the Hokies would get.

Davell Rovy's baseline layup pushed the lead back to 66-60. Bess made seven free throws and Goodwin three in the final minute to help seal the win.

"It was good to see," Ford said. "We've had some really poor performances from the free-throw line in some games -- exhibition games and different things; we've had some other games where we've shot them a little bit better -- it was good to see because I think that's when you're tested.

"I've seen that from Javon. I've seen that from Jordan and different guys. When it's on the line, they seem to rise to the occasion."

Benefiting an early-season game, there were areas in which Williams and Ford to work on with their teams. For the Hokies, free-throw shooting was a significant issue as they made only 23 of 36 (63.9 percent).

Saint Louis made just 4 of 18 from the arc.

"I thought they overwhelmed us," Williams said.