Greg whittington, Josh Richardson

No. 20 Hoyas score only 37 points, yet hang on to defeat Volunteers


WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a first half that was sloppy, physical and at times, hard to watch, Georgetown and Tennessee provided an entertaining second half and equally thrilling finish in the Friday opener of the Big East/SEC Challenge, with Georgetown escaping with a 37-36 victory over the Volunteers.

Markel Starks jumper with 4:42 remaining in the second half gave the Hoyas a 37-36 lead, which would hold until the final buzzer.

The Hoyas had the ball with 21 seconds remaining, but an errant pass from Greg Whittington to Otto Porter gave the Volunteers a chance to win the game on the final possession. Skylar McBee missed a 3-pointer, but went out-of-bounds giving Tennessee one last chance to steal a road victory. Jordan McCrae got an opening look from beyond the arc as time expired but it fell well short.

The first half provided very little in terms of scoring and offensive production. Both teams combined to shoot 13-for-48 from the field including 2-for-13 from behind the arc. The half time score of 18-16 in favor of Tennessee, thanks to a Trae Golden buzzer-beater, should indicate just how much difficulty both teams had finding the bottom of the net.

The second half provided slightly more action than the first, as Tennessee was able to start knocking down their outside shots. But the Volunteers were forced to take outside shots because the Hoyas’ long and lanky 2-3 zone made getting the ball to Jarnell Stokes almost impossible for Tennesse. Stokes, the Volunteers primary scoring option, finished with just four points, all coming in the first half.

This was an ugly, ugly game. No player scored in double-digits. McBee and Stokes each scored eight for the Volunteers, while Greg Whittington, Mikael Hopkins and Otto Porter each scored eight points for the Hoyas. Stokes actually grabbed more rebounds (9) than the game’s top scorers.

This was the first time since John Thompson III took over as head coach that the Hoyas scored under 40 points. Their previous low in a win under Thompson III was 46 points, which came in a 46-45 win over Temple in November of 2009.

Troy Machir is the Managing Editor at Ballin’ is a Habit and can be found on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.