|Image from here|
Consider the reputation cemented.
For the fourth consecutive tournament appearance, Georgetown was knocked out in the opening weekend by a hot-from-behind-the-arc double-digit seed. Today, the 11th-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack had the pleasure, 66-63.
The expression that usually brings a pain to the heart of a stathead is "the eye-test." But today, I'd have to say that North Carolina St. passed the eye-test, in that for about 25 minutes of the game the Wolfpack just looked like the better team, and often CJ Leslie looked without peer on the floor.
The story from the pre-game info at Casual Hoya was that Wolfpack fans were concerned about foul difficulty inside, but it turned out to be Georgetown to suffer that fate, as Henry Sims picked his second foul at the 14:20 mark of the first half, with the Hoyas ahead 8-5. Now the narrative late in the game was that NC State was able to pull away from Georgetown once Sims sat, but the reality was that the Hoyas enjoyed a 17-10 run over the next 9+ minutes of game time to extend to a 10-point lead. The game was 20 possessions in, on pace for 53 for the entire game.
What ensued felt like a mugging at half-court, as the Hoyas committed 6 turnover on their next 10 possessions while the Wolfpack ran off seven points in 32 seconds on their way to a 15-2 run to close out the half. The pace of the game had noticeably quickened. The hits kept coming as the Vespers half began, as NC State used a 13-5 run out of the gate to stretch their lead to eleven points.
As we've seen in the past, when the wheels fall off Hollis Thompson is able to remain calm and throw enough good shots at the rim to ring up points. And today that effort slowly dragged Georgetown back into the game, as Hollis scored 15 of his team-leading 23 points after the deficit had ballooned to eleven.
Somehow, near the end of the game, the Hoyas had three attempts to tie or take the lead:
- Down three with 0:40 left, Henry Sims drove right and drew the foul. His shot attempt for the and-one was on-line but short of the rim. I think that was the first (only?) moment in the second half where I thought Georgetown could actually win the game.
- Down two with 0:25 left, the Hoyas tried to find Henry in the left block (I was having serious Cinci in the Big East, 2-OT flashbacks), but instead Otto Porter took and left short a baseline jumper. I'd guess many would have a problem with Otto's shot, preferring to hold for a better look; in his defense, he shot early enough that a miss wouldn't end the game, as we saw.
- With 4.6 seconds left and a Wolfpack free throw missed, suddenly Jason Clark was streaking down the sideline with a chance to tie the game. His attempt was open, but hurried and deep and never had a chance. The final horn sounded.
Looking at the tempo-free box, the Hoyas only struggled in two areas: defensive rebounding and 3FG defense.
The outside shooting is the less serious offense. Although the Hoyas will end the season leading the nation in 3FG% allowed [27.7%],and the Wolfpack are an average 3FG-shooting team [35.8%, 98th nationally], we've learned from Ken Pomeroy that 3FG shooting is a very hard thing to predict in small sample sizes, such as a tournament game.
But the Hoyas also led the Big East conference in defensive rebounding [OR allowed = 31%], a stat that helped drive their defense to the top-ten nationally (per KenPom). The difference in offensive rebounding [41% to 25%, NCSU to GU] today and the resulting difference in second chance points [15-8] proved to be the difference in the game.
And so another season comes to an end, although perhaps not as bitterly as the previous four. With low expectations entering the season, a shot to advance to the Sweet-16 was about the best-case scenario for the Hoyas and their fans. And that's what they got.
We'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the seniors on the team:
- Jason Clark, whose spectacular play thrilled Georgetown fans for four seasons and netted him all-Big East honors. But perhaps more importantly, he also earned the Big East's Sportsmanship award. His and his teammates' dignity make rooting for the Hoyas a pleasure, in spite of the inevitable pains.
- Henry Sims, whose emergence early this season as a star, and whose late-season heroics helped bring the Hoyas to the cusp of the Sweet-16
- And while I'm hesitant to include the nominal junior here, Hollis Thompson, who knew how to thrill his audience (at Alabama and vs. Marquette this year). Hollis is allegedly on schedule to graduate a semester early, at the end of this academic year.
Let's run the numbers:
TEMPO-FREE BOX SCORE . Home Visitor . Georgetown North Carolina State . 1st Half 2nd Half Total 1st Half 2nd Half Total Pace 31 32 64 Points 27 36 63 30 36 66 Effic. 86.4 111.7 99.2 96.0 111.7 103.9 eFG% 50.0 48.4 49.0 39.7 48.0 43.5 TO% 32.0 6.2 18.9 16.0 15.5 15.7 OR% 25.0 25.0 25.0 45.5 35.0 40.5 FTA/FGA 45.0 25.8 33.3 48.3 68.0 57.4 Assist Rate 62.5 61.5 61.9 50.0 60.0 55.0 Block Rate 8.7 12.5 10.3 11.1 11.8 11.5 Steal Rate 9.6 6.2 7.9 9.6 3.1 6.3 2FG% 44.4 52.9 50.0 30.4 37.5 33.3 3FG% 36.4 28.6 32.0 50.0 44.4 46.7 FT% 77.8 75.0 76.5 50.0 70.6 61.3
more stats after the jump