The highlights and takeaways following Georgetown's 68-49 win over Maryland Eastern Shore Tuesday night at Verizon Center. The win, the Hoyas' second straight, also served as their final tune-up before renewing the rivalry with former Big East foe Syracuse on Saturday.
Senior D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera set season-highs with 30 points and five 3-pointers for the Hoyas (3-3), who reached .500 for the first time this season. Georgetown never trailed, entered the halftime locker room leading 38-20 and were seemingly on the verge of blowing out the overmatched Hawks (1-5).
After valuing possession in the first half, the Hoyas began turning the ball over with regularity against UMES pressure defense. With the margin 10 at 50-39 with seven minutes remaining, Georgetown ended any drama by scoring the next eight points including five from Smith-Rivera, who reached 30 points for the fourth time in his career.
Smith-Rivera made all five of his 3-pointers in the first half. Bradley Hayes had 11 points and nine rebounds. Leading scorer Isaac Copeland went of 0 of 3 from the field and did not record a point.
Ryan Andino scored 16 points for the Hawks. UMES shot 36 percent from the field and committed 14 of its 19 turnovers in the first half.
Welcome back, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's shot
Somewhat overlooked in Georgetown's rough start was the All-Big East performer's shooting and scoring struggles. Smith-Rivera's 12.8 point scoring average entering Tuesday was 3.5 points below his average last season. The senior, who nearly left school for the pro ranks over the summer, shot an abysmal 1 of 9 on 3-pointers and 3 of 12 overall against Bryant. Over the last three games, he went 4 of 20 overall from beyond the arc. Players slump at times, but rarely have we seen the career 37 percent 3-point shooter labor like this. The long distance scuffling ended in the first half. With confidence flowing, Smith-Rivera sank 5 of 7 from deep including treys on consecutive possession to give the Hoyas a 36-20 lead.
Perfect time for a return to form seeing as Georgetown faces the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 matchup zone next. Not that head coach John Thompson III was worried.
"I don’t worry about his offense. I’ve lost a lot of hours and night’s sleep over a lot of different things as it relates to this young man, but none of them have to do with offense and it never will. If the ball isn’t going in, who cares, it means the basket is crooked," the coach cracked.
Smith-Rivera expressed some relief after making 10 of 16 shots overall.
“It feels great, man," Smith-Rivera said. "My teammates just supported me pretty much through all the games and I finally feel like the weight is off my shoulders a little bit. And coach has been telling me to just keep playing. Like he said, he’s not worried about the offense, so shots were going to fall eventually and I appreciate my teammates for just continuing to find me and continuing to look for me when I’m open.”
Georgetown eventually routed Bryant 77-47 on Saturday, but it took 15 minutes before finding a rhythm. The Hoyas avoided a slow start against the Hawks, but lost their way early in the second half. After committing six turnovers in the first half, Georgetown committed 10 by the midway point of the final period as UMES deployed full court pressure.
Feasting off UMES turnovers fueled the first half surge. Struggles against the pressure defense and zone defense bogged down the Hoyas after halftime. Georgetown finds out Saturday if facing consistent zone defenses over the last two games help in the all important next game.
"I thought their zone was effective because it was unorthodox," Thompson said. "They went man a few possessions and we some good looks and they went right back to it." As for his team's offense heading into the Syracuse meeting, Thompson said, "We’ll see. It’s easy to sit here and say, 'the last two games you played against a zone.' What Bryant did and how they play their zone is different from Maryland Eastern Shore and that’s different from how Syracuse plays it. So, yes, you’ve gone against a zone, but with each one we have to look at different ways to attack it."
Welcome back, Tre Campbell
The sophomore guard, out the last three games with an undisclosed illness, made his first appearance since the first half of Georgetown's Nov. 17 loss at Maryland. Campbell finished with seven points in 19 minutes. The biggest key was simply getting Smith-Rivera's backup on the court. Georgetown used the two point guards together at times during the second half.
Smith-Rivera (1,480 career points) passed Roy Hibbert (1,485) for 16th on the school's all-time scoring list.