NCAA

Hoyas top the Mount, eventually

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Hoyas top the Mount, eventually

Earlier this week the Hoyas showed they could hang with the best of the best. On Saturday - and for the third straight home game - Georgetown failed to demonstrate the same sense of urgency against a non-power conference program. Eventually John Thompson III's squad toned down the turnovers and put Mount St. Mary's away but only after allowing the undermanned Northeast Conference program to stick around.

Otto Porter and Greg Whittington each posted double doubles and the hot-shooting Hoyas closed the game with a 22-6 second run as Georgetown improved to 4-1 with a 72-50 win over Mount St. Mary's at the Verizon Center.

Porter finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Whittington played all 40 minutes, finishing with 17 and 11. The sophomore forward tandem shot a combined 14 of 21 as the Hoyas connected on over 60 percent of their attempts in both halves. Georgetown doubled up Mount St. Mary's on the glass 42-21.

While those are all great stats, as was the result, the in-game execution had the coach pondering who the guys were dressed in the home gray as Georgetown only led 50-44 with 8:04 remaining.

"It was intensity. They came out and played extremely aggressive and came after us. I don't know whether the guys didn't believe the coaches when we told them that's what's going to happen. We came out kind of going through the motions. I didn't recognize the team that was on the court.

Up six, Porter's layup sparked a run of eight straight points, which led to the decisive finish. Georgetown sank 9 of its final 12 attempts and shot 63.8 percent overall. The Mountaineers made 6 of 14 three-pointers in the first half, but as the Hoyas defensive intensity grew, the misses mounted. Mount St. Mary's missed 9 of 10 from beyond the arc after the break; went without a field goal over the final 3:01 and shot 25.8 percent (8 of 31) in the second half.

"In the second half we picked it up a little bit - a lot actually," the Hoyas coach said, who credited his team's offensive work against the Mountaineers pressure defense for the change after being "too casual as receivers, too casual as dribblers" early on.

When the Hoyas maintained possession, they found ways to score especially around the basket, finishing with a 48-20 points in the paint advantage. Avoiding turnovers early on proved problematic; Georgetown committed 11 of its 17 turnovers in the first half.

"It was a big concern. Do I think it’s systemic? No, but we were just too casual," Thompson said of the turnovers.

"One I didn’t recognize what we were doing in the first half. In the second half, I think we just executed our press offense and got open. I thought in the first half we were too casual as dribblers and too casual as receivers. So once we stopped being so casual out there it wasn’t as bad."

Asked about the difference in tone between facing Mount St. Mary's and the just completed two-game swing in Brooklyn against UCLA and top-ranked Indiana, Whittington said, "They’re a D1 school so they’re going to come and play as hard as any other school would and we knew we had to play them. It took us a while, but we picked up our energy and came out in the second half ready to get on our horses."

Georgetown's schedule veers back into notable opponent territory with Tennessee visiting on Friday in the Big East-SEC challenge. Human nature suggests the Hoyas concentration jumps up several notches for the nationally televised tilt as it did when they faced UCLA and Indiana early this week in Brooklyn. As for whether the flip side of the human nature angle contributed to his team's slow start against the Mountaineers, the Hoyas coach was not interested in such excuses.

"Yeah, but so what. That's easy to say. We have to get to the level, mentally focused where that does not happen. Where each and every time you step on the court it's special."

* Markel Starks continued his scoring surge, finishing with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Over his last three games, the junior guard is averaging 19.3 points while knocking down 57.9 of his attempts.

* Forward Mikael Hopkins, the only Georgetown player to score in double figures all five games, had 13 points in 27 minutes, but only grabbed two rebounds.

* Because the game remained in doubt throughout, Thompson never dipped deep into his bench, using only seven players until making wholesale changes in the final minute. Four starters including played over 30 minutes with guards Jabril Trawick and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera picking up the rest.

"That is not how I want to be, that’s now how I wanted today to be," Thompson said. "We have some guys, from Moses [Ayegba], to Stephen Domigo, to Aaron Bowen to Bradley Hayes that we need to get ready. But it was an eight –point game with five or six minutes to go."

Having even his more established options still in learning their new role mode also contributed to the tighter rotation.

"Part of the growth of this team is that we have Mikael still growing, Markel is in a different role, Greg is in a different role from last year, Otto is Otto, and as much as we have to get past our first seven, those guys are still settling into new roles and totally new positions that they have to get accustomed to before league play starts, before eight, nine and ten get ready."

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

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USA TODAY Sports

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.

MORE NCAA: BEST BUZZER BEATERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."