Game Preview: UW vs. Georgetown (Game #8)

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UW Georgetown preview copy
UW Georgetown preview copy /

The game is part of the John R. Wooden Classic. The second and final game of the Classic will feature UCLA and Mississippi State.

The game will be broadcast nationally on FSN and KJR-950 in Seattle, or your local Husky radio affiliate elsewhere (click here to find yours).

Tale of the tape:

Gtown tale of the tape copy
Gtown tale of the tape copy /

What you need to know about the Huskies:

The Huskies last played on Sunday evening at home, where they defeated Cal State Northridge, 88-76. Despite a dreadful opening five minutes of the second half, the Huskies outscored the Matadors by 23 during the rest of the game.

The Huskies are ranked 17th in the AP poll and 16th in the Coaches’ Poll.

Quincy Pondexter earned his second Pac-10 Player of the Week award for his performances during last week’s games against Texas Tech and Cal State Northridge, during which he averaged 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 3.0 steals.

Elston Turner made the first two starts of his career last week, and is averaging 10.6 points per game over the last three games.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Huskies and the Hoyas.

Projected lineup: G – Venoy Overton, G – Isaiah Thomas, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Darnell Gant, F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Huskies to watch:

Sophomore forward, Darnell Gant, and freshman forward, Tyreese Breshers: The Hoyas have three players 6’9″ and over who average 13 or more minutes per game. The Huskies have one (Matthew Bryan-Amaning). For the Huskies to compete with the Hoyas around the basket, they must get contributions from their other bigs, Gant and Breshers, particularly on the defensive end. I’m projecting a start for Gant, but whether that’s correct or not, I believe it would be unwise to play Quincy Pondexter at the “4” spot too much against Georgetown. Instead, allow Quincy a size advantage over the Husky wings, and hopefully, a few easy baskets throughout the game.

What you need to know about Georgetown:

The Hoyas come into the game at 7-0, having most recently defeated 20th-ranked Butler on Tuesday night, 72-65. They’re ranked 15th in the AP poll and 13th in the Coaches’ poll.

The Hoyas finished tied for 11th in a strong Big East conference last season, going 7-11 in conference play and 16-15 overall, losing 74-72 to Baylor in the first round of the NIT Tournament.

Head coach John Thompson III is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Hoyas. He returns three of his five starters from last season’s team, including Big East Rookie of the Year, center Greg Monroe.

Although the most recent Hoya teams are more equipped to run than the teams coached by John Thompson, Jr., the Hoyas will try to use their size to neutralize the Huskies’ speed, and will attempt to keep the final score in the sixties or seventies.

Monroe is coming off of his career-highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds against Butler, and is averaging 15.3 ppg and 10.7 rpg. The 6’11” center is an adept passer and will frequently step out to the high post or the top of the key, but Monroe is likely the best low post player the Huskies will face all season.

Starting guards Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Jason Clark all average between 12 and 13 points per game. Forward Julian Vaughn (6’9″, 246 lbs.) is a second presence down low, and is one of four Hoyas who averages at least one blocked shot per game. Sixth man, Hollis Thompson is shooting 50% from three-point range so far during his freshman season.

Projected lineup: G – Chris Wright, G – Austin Freeman, G – Jason Clark, F – Julian Vaughn, C – Greg Monroe

Hoya to watch:

Junior forward, Julian Vaughn: It would’ve been stating the obvious to name Monroe here. Monroe’s season lows (nine points, seven rebounds, in different games) are more than any of the Husky big men are averaging, and the Dawgs will need to render unto Monroe what is his on Saturday and find a way to win anyway. But, Vaughn is too big (literally) to play second banana to anyone, and despite (relatively) modest averages of 7.3 points and 5.6 boards, he gets nearly two blocks per game and will wreak havoc near the rim if the Huskies cannot open things up from the outside.

The path to victory:

Convert outside 20, and inside six: At times this season, the Huskies have made close-range shots look like the hardest ones on the floor to sink. Against a Georgetown team that shoots nearly 50% from the field, the Huskies must convert on any “easy” shots near the rim that they get, and also be effective dishing to Elston Turner and Isaiah Thomas whenever they may be alone outside the arc.

Limit turnovers: I know. . . This sounds like a no-brainer, but the Huskies have actually regressed over their last two games when it comes to taking care of the ball, committing 19 turnovers against Texas Tech and 20 against Northridge. Three Huskies have had games with five or more turnovers in the past week, and that simply won’t cut it against a Georgetown team that will try to limit possessions and make the most of every Husky miscue.

What I expect:

I expect this game will be about the Huskies’ offense and Georgetown’s defense. The Hoyas allow 54.9 points per game, and the Huskies score 86.3. If the Huskies can put up 80 points on Saturday, they’ll be in a position to win. If not, it’ll mean Georgetown is controlling the tempo, and likely, the outcome.

I expect Lorenzo Romar to have two of his “bigs” on the floor most of the time. Quincy Pondexter matches up well size-wise against the Hoya wing players and will be the only Husky to enjoy a size advantage against Georgetown.

I expect this to be a tough matchup for the Huskies. Georgetown is bigger, but they’re still athletic. And, they’re a more efficient team than the Dawgs have been so far. If UW does manage a victory here, count me as a believer that the “sky’s the limit” for this Husky squad (the team’s mantra since preseason). My heart, of course, says “Huskies,” but based on what I’ve seen from both teams, my head is saying “Hoyas.” I’m predicting Georgetown will win, 75-70.