No. 15 Georgetown overcomes Towson, 17-point first half

WASHINGTON -- The first time it was kind of funny. Win a game with 37 points? Hadn't seen anything like that since elementary school.

The second time, Georgetown coach John Thompson III was more defensive about the offensiveness of his offense. He said he was concerned about the No. 15 Hoyas' lack of scoring in Saturday's 46-40 win over Towson, but not overly concerned. He insisted he has "good offensive players," but he said they are "immature offensively" and "have a lot of growing up to do."

"We have a lot of guys that are thinking, trying to figure out where to go, what to do, what reads to make," Thompson said. "It's something we have to work on."

Eight days after setting the school record for scoring futility in the shot clock era with a 37-36 win over Tennessee -- a game Thompson compared to one he played when he was 8 years old -- the Hoyas made it back-to-back home clankfests by scoring 17 points and shooting 17 percent in the first half.

They shot 29 percent for the game and won by getting to the free throw line in the second half and with defense, forcing 22 turnovers and pulling away -- if it could be called that -- with a 4-0 game-ending run over the final 4 1/2 minutes.

"It was one of those games where we said, 'Let's try to make it as ugly as possible,' " Thompson said. "This group, we can win a lot of different ways. We can win at a fast pace. We can win at a slow pace. We can win what purists may call pretty. But we can also win ugly, and I thought that in the second half we had to win ugly today."

If that's the case, the strategy was a roaring success. Eleven of Georgetown's 29 second-half points came from the free throw line, and Towson's final possessions were a hodgepodge of turnovers and air balls. The Tigers' final points came on a 3-pointer from freshman point guard Jerome Hairston that cut the Hoyas' lead to 42-40 with 4:35 to play.

Greg Whittington scored 11 points, and Mikael Hopkins and Otto Porter had 10 apiece for the Hoyas (7-1), whose only loss came in overtime against No. 1 Indiana. Towson was the first of four home opponents in the soft part of the schedule that, in theory, is supposed to give Thompson a chance to give his bench some much-needed work, but the Tigers showed they are no longer a punch line of a team.

Towson (4-5) went 1-31 last season, but only three scholarship players returned to a roster that added three Big East transfers. The standout among the three is Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon, who returned to his old home court to lead the Tigers with 11 points and 16 rebounds. He also played traffic cop on defense for a team that seemed to know what was coming from the Hoyas' Princeton Offense.

"I could read stuff. I played in the offense, so it's just a whole bunch of reads, so once you see one thing you can sniff it out," Benimon said. "It helped a lot, especially in the first half."

With Benimon on the floor, Towson's defense blanketed Georgetown's shooters, crowded the passing lanes and frequently cut off the backdoor option, forcing the Hoyas to settle for jumpers early on.

"He might know what we're trying to do more than some of the guys in our locker room," Thompson said. "He's a very smart player."

The Tigers are holding their own this season despite the fact they've yet to play at home: Saturday's game was the ninth in a 10-game road stretch to start the season.

"The biggest thing is our new and better players," Towson coach Pat Skerry said. "When you get good players, it makes you look like a pretty good coach."

Georgetown started a staggering 2 for 24 from the field before Whittington's 3-pointer cut Towson's lead to 12-11 late in the first half. The Hoyas had more shots blocked (6) than made field goals (5) in the half, but they connected on a pair of backdoor plays in the final two minutes to take a 17-15 lead at the break.

Thompson downplayed the scoring woes vs. Tennessee and Towson by pointing out the differences in the two games. Good shots weren't falling against the Volunteers, he said, while lack of offensive flow was the problem against the Tigers.

Asked how many such games it will take before the lack of scoring becomes a trend of real concern, Thompson answered: "When we get there, I'll let you know."