On a day when the hot-shooting guards Austin Freeman and Jason Clark couldn’t find their stride, senior guard Chris Wright seized control to lead the Georgetown Hoyas (8-0) to a 68-51 victory over the Utah State Aggies (5-2) Dec. 4.
Wright was able to take over the game thanks to a better understanding of his role, according to Georgetown coach John Thompson III, who said Wright’s impact goes beyond what shows up in his stats.
“It’s easy to look at Chris’ numbers and look at how well he’s playing right now,” Thompson said. “As much as you can look-in, analyze and breakdown the numbers; I’ve seen as much growth in terms of ‘Hey coach, I think this is open, hey coach, let’s try this.’”
“I think in that regard, as much as whatever shows up on the stat sheet, his feel for running the game and managing our team is at a very high level right now,” he said.
Utah State’s defenders were effective throughout the game disrupting the comfort zone of the junior Clark and senior Freeman. Georgetown’s offense, which was on full display in its 111-103 win over Missouri earlier in the week, was nowhere to be found early in the first half.
“ does an outstanding job of making it difficult to get good shots,” Thompson said. “It took us a little while to figure it out in the first half.”
In the early stages, Utah State looked as if they would give Georgetown all they could handle offensively as well, as the Aggies held a four-point lead midway through the first half.
That’s when Wright stepped in. Seeing that Utah State was getting into a good flow, Wright said he thought switching to the three-quarter-court press would work in Georgetown’s favor.
“I think we wanted to change the tempo a little bit,” Wright said. “We all felt like they were getting into a rhythm in the half court so we wanted to switch up defenses and it slowed them down offensively. We were able to force a couple turnovers and build a little lead.”
Georgetown jumped out to a nine-point lead before Utah State whittled it down to four at halftime.
Early in the second half, Georgetown put Utah State’s best low-post threat, senior Tai Wesley, in foul trouble and promptly put the game out of reach. Spurred by their defense, Goergetown went on a 13-0 run to take a commanding 50-31 lead with 13:44 left in the second half.
They led by as many as 22 as they cruised to victory over the fourth 2010 NCAA tournament team they’ve played thus far.
Utah State is trying to make their third NCAA tournament in a row, and said it was Georgetown’s defense that made the difference in the game.
“It’s tough to go in there for a half and then let them explode on us,” said Utah State coach Stew Morrill. “We had a tough time with their athleticism, didn’t handle the press at all and they got some easy baskets. When you play against that kind of quickness, some things surprise you a little bit.”
Key Players: Wright led Georgetown with 21 points and four steals. Utah State’s Wesley was its most effective scoring option before he fouled out with eight points.
Key Stretch: A 13-0 run over a five minute stretch early in the second half ended any hopes of a Utah State upset victory.
Next Up: Georgetown travels to Philadelphia on Dec. 9 to play another tough game against the Temple Owls. Utah State will play host to Long Beach State on Dec.