Before blowing a majority of an 18-point lead over the ninth-ranked team in the country, the Georgetown Hoyas seemed to be in firm control of Villanova in the opener of Big East play.
The Hoyas were hitting big-time shots, seemed to have an edge with their top post player and the Wildcats couldn't buy a basket. That was all before the opposition snatched control back of the contest and won handily in a 76-63 victory.
For many, this was an all too familiar situation for Georgetown fans. Showing the promise against a high-quality opponent only to have their heart's ripped out. At times Georgetown played well, there were even spurts of good signs in the poor second half. As bad as the final score may seem, an upset was possible.
So is Georgetown an embodiment of what they were in the first half or the second half? Are they a team that played West Virginia close or the team that lost a 'buy-game' to Navy?
"Rome wasn't built in a day, we're still building we're still learning each other, we're still trying to grow," Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said postgame. "We're gonna make mistakes. We can't panic, we just got to keep on building and keep on working. This is our first game in the Big East against a quality team. We had our opportunities to get the win but once again we made too many mistakes and we have to cut those out."
Those opportunities can all be attributed to the first half. Most notably is that the Hoyas proved that their 3-point shooting is going to be a factor in Big East Conference play.
Shooting and making threes against Navy and Coppin State are one thing. Doing it against West Virginia and Villanova (yes, ignore the second-half for now) is another. Georgetown made six 3-pointers on 12 attempts in the first twenty minutes of play. Qudus Wahab - more on him later - was phenomenal at drawing attention down low that set up open shooters.
Guys were left open and the Wildcats were too late to closeout. A ball fake down low or a skip pass over the defense was all that was needed to find the open shooters, where four different Hoyas got a 3-pointer to go down.
None of that translated over into the second half (1-for-11 from deep) as Georgetown went ice cold. All of that while Villanova's Collin Gillespie (18 points) heated up and made three threes in the final half to help with the comeback.
Partly that was due to Wahab not able to find any momentum down low in the second half. All 12 of his points, as the second-leading scorer for the Hoyas, came in the opening frame. None of the Wildcats, initially, could slow him down one-on-one. Villanova head coach Jay Wright rotated out different players to see if he could be stymied.
Eventually, Villanova settled on fronting him. Pair that with some missed shots and the offense went away from him completely.
"We have to be able to do both. We have to take our threes and make our threes. We have guys that can do it. But we also have to get inside," Ewing said. "I thought, for the most part, we got the ball inside to [Wahab]. He was able to get some good shots, some of them he made, some of them we missed. And we got for the most part, especially in the first half we got good, some good threes."
That's all a part of the plan for the Hoyas. Ewing said postgame that Wahab's success down low as a true center will set up their 3-point offense. The first half may have been fool's gold, but for Ewing that's how he envisions his team getting wins. For this game, the Villanova that everyone across the country has grown to know just finally showed up in the second half.