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.