Georgetown held St. John's lead dog D'Angelo Harrison to seven points, ending his streak in double figures at 29 games. The result was a 67-51 Hoyas blowout yesterday at Madison Square Garden that was worse than the score indicated and revealed that the youthful Red Storm really hasn't established a Plan B.
Coming off a 28-point home loss to Pitt that left them 0-2 in Big East play, the Hoyas (11-3, 1-2) shut down Harrison with a zone defense in which Markel Starks often was matched against him and succeeded in steering him into double- and triple-teams. That defensive effort and a 48-33 rebounding advantage helped the Hoyas lead by as many as 26 points.
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St. John's (9-7, 1-3) got 16 points from Jamal Branch, 12 from JaKarr Sampson, 11 from Sir'Dominic Pointer (plus four assists and three steals) and 10 rebounds and six blocks from Chris Obekpa. But the Storm never threatened a comeback.
Georgetown played well despite the suspension of forward Greg Whittington for a violation of team rules. Otto Porter (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Starks (17 points) delivered big-time games, and Nate Lubick (11 points, six rebounds) and D'Vaun Smith-Rivera (eight points, 10 rebounds) made important contributions.
"I just think it was a dominating performance by Georgetown," said Storm coach Steve Lavin, who was remarkably unruffled afterward. "We got taken to the woodshed in all aspects of the game. It's really not that complicated. It's back to the drawing board for us to get ready for Notre Dame on Tuesday."
As Lavin said, the game was pretty simple. Starks and the Georgetown zone swarmed Harrison early. When he failed to get his shot, St. John's threw the ball around the perimeter until forced to heave up a prayer as the shot clock ran down.
"He's a great scorer," Starks said of Harrison, who came in averaging 21.5 points after scoring at least 20 in 11 previous games. "Sure, we tried to send him to double-teams. We wanted to prevent him from getting off shots. There were no tricks or gimmicks. We're a good defensive team."
Starks' three-pointer sent the Hoyas on a 27-6 run for a 33-10 lead with 6:33 left in the first half. Porter had 10 points and Starks eight in that span.
"You could tell they had a game plan for making sure I didn't get easy looks," Harrison said. "They did a good job."
Asked why it was difficult for teammates to get good looks when he was under pressure, Harrison said, "That's probably what we'll work on [Monday]. JaKarr didn't have a great game, either. They had our number . . . Coach Thompson did a good job."
Actually, the zone used by John Thompson III also kept Harrison's teammates out of the paint. While Sampson is the second-leading scorer, he's experiencing freshman growing pains, and the secondary scoring roles aren't well-defined yet.
"They did a good job with the zone," said Amir Garrett, who was one of two scoreless starters along with Phil Greene. "We weren't able to get the ball in the middle . . . Teams are closing in on D'Angelo, so other players are trying to step up to see where they fit in."
Lavin's team must find those answers in a hurry or expect more of the same as it ventures deeper into the Big East season.