Georgetown might have been expected to look past Liberty a bit, and instead think ahead to next week's games against No. 13 UCLA and, possibly, No. 1 Indiana. Well, junior forward Nate Lubick pretty much said that's what happened to the Hoyas.
With top player Otto Porter Jr. sitting out because of concussion symptoms, Georgetown got a career-high 18 points plus nine rebounds from Greg Whittington, overcame some defensive lapses and held on to beat Liberty 68-59 Wednesday night.
"With all due respect to Liberty, we got some games coming up, and we're preparing for some teams that are a little bit better than them," said Lubick, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. "We use these games to find ourselves, to find what this team's identity is going to be. ... I don't think our sense of urgency's really been there."
Mikael Hopkins added 13 points for Georgetown (2-0), which travels to Brooklyn to face UCLA on Monday, then either top-ranked Indiana or Georgia on Tuesday.
"We probably caught Georgetown on a night that they weren't quite as inspired as they will be later in the year. It's understandable," Liberty coach Dale Layer said. "I thought we played our best that we've played, and it took every bit of our best just to kind of hang in there and not be a 30-point blowout."
Liberty (0-3), which was led by Casey Roberts' 13 points, actually scored the game's first four points. But then Georgetown reeled off 17 in a row, the sort of mismatch one might expect between teams from the Big East and Big South. Liberty already lost to Richmond by 42 points and to William & Mary by 12. Plus, the Flames were without three of their primary post players, who are injured.
Liberty, which is in Lynchburg, Va., is 0-9 against Big East opponents. Still, the Flames outscored the Hoyas by seven points in the second half and finished 10 for 19 on 3-pointers, something that bothered coach John Thompson III.
"They got 'Sunday down at the park' shots and they went in," Thompson said. "Our attention to detail at the defensive end, I don't think was good all night. Our communication was not good all night."
Another problem for his team: Georgetown shot 2 for 15 on 3s.
"Is 15 too many? No. But there definitely were some that we should not have taken," Thompson said.
Even without preseason all-conference selection Porter, the Hoyas started three players who are 6-foot-8 or taller; the visitors' lineup didn't have anyone bigger than 6-7. Not surprisingly, Georgetown outscored Liberty 24-0 in the paint in the first half. But the teams each scored 10 in the paint in the second half.
"I think they blocked one shot seven times on the same possession. And that's not something we're used to," Layer said.
Whittington, a sophomore, topped his previous college best of 15 points.
He had eight points and 15 rebounds in Georgetown's 61-55 victory over Duquesne on Sunday.
"Greg can do a lot of different things," Thompson said. "He has that responsibility-slash-burden to do a lot of different things."
Porter was hit in the head in the first half against Duquesne and left after playing only 6 minutes. His absence Wednesday was announced a little more than an hour before the tipoff, and he sat on the bench wearing a dark suit and tie.
Thompson said Porter could be back against UCLA.
Asked about Lubick's description of Georgetown's play so far, Thompson said he wasn't sure he'd use the same words. But he agreed that the team needs to overcome a lack of experience: There are zero seniors on the roster.
"We're growing up," Thompson said. "Our schedule is such that we've got to grow up pretty fast, because we've got baptism by fire starting pretty soon here."
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