At halftime against American University, it seemed that the Georgetown Hoyas were once again struggling to put away an overmatched team, just as they had against Howard University a week earlier.

But two Hoyas veterans stepped up as the team shook off their first-half struggles to put away American, 81-55.

Georgetown, which was finishing up its exam week, was sluggish from the start and turned the ball over on two of its first three possessions, causing head coach John Thompson III to call an early timeout.

But his talk seemed to have little effect as the Hoyas continued their sleepwalk through the half, taking only a 32-26 lead into halftime.

The second half was a different story, thanks to junior forward Hollis Thompson and the deft passing of senior center and Baltimore native Henry Sims.

Georgetown’s offense is based on back-door cuts, a tactic the team seemed to abandon in the first half. But Thompson, a Los Angeles recruit, said he noticed that the strategy would work if he and his teammates showed more patience.

“One of the key things at halftime, and Hollis actually said this, that the cuts were open very, very late,” John Thompson III said. “When we did cut in the first half we were giving up on it and going to the next option too soon.

“I think the communication between teammates was key,” Thompson continued.

Another key was the crucial play of Sims from the high post, which allowed several of his teammates to get uncontested layups.

“ wanted us moving north and south instead of east and west,” Sims said. “Hollis said at halftime that ‘the cuts were open late so keep looking.’ My teammates were cutting hard and it was my job to get them the ball.”

American head coach Jeff Jones said he noticed not just Georgetown’s improved offense but their tighter defensive play.

“They really geared up their defense and we just weren’t very good,” Jones said. “To me the key stat was the points in the paint. Six points in the paint for them in the first half and 42 for the game. They came at us. They got to the free-throw line. They knocked us back and we never fully responded.”

Key Players: Sims starred for the Hoyas, finishing with 17 points and six assists. But he got plenty of help from sophomore guard Markel Starks, who finished with 18 points, and Thompson who scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds. American was paced by senior guard Charles Hinkle who scored 16 points. He was joined in double figures by junior guard Blake Jolivette and freshman guard John Schoof, who finished with 11 and 12 points respectively.

Key Stretch: Led by Sims, the Hoyas began the second half on a 30-13 run to put the game out of reach.

Next Up: Georgetown returns to action on Dec. 22 to play Memphis for the second time this season, while American travels to Villanova the same evening.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO