Northeastern’s starting front line of Scott Eatherton and Reggie Spencer combined for 30 points and 19 boards as the Huskies knocked off Georgetown 63-56 in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off down in San Juan on Thursday.
It really was an ugly performance from Georgetown, particularly in the second half. Northeastern threw a zone at the Hoyas, and Georgetown looked utterly lost. The Hoyas didn’t have much in the way of a zone offense, as Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera struggled to penetrate against the zone. And since the Hoyas shot a sterling 3-for-16 from beyond the arc, Northeastern was able to slack off on the perimeter, taking away from Georgetown’s massive size advantage in the paint.
Where the Hoyas really are going to miss Otto Porter is against a 2-3 zone. He was so good at finding space in the high-post area and making something happen, whether it was getting himself a look at the rim for creating a shot for one of his teammates. Who plays that role for the Hoyas this year? Nate Lubick looked lost on the perimeter on Thursday, committing five really ugly turnovers. Mikael Hopkins doesn’t really have the kind of skill set that will make him a threat. Neither does Jabril Trawick. Josh Smith might actually be pretty good in the high-post, but that would take away his ability seal in front of the rim, a move that is unstoppable when he gets position.
Starks and Smith-Rivera are not going to have many nights where they combine for 7-for-26 shooting and make just a combined 2-for-12 from beyond the arc. They are too good for that. But don’t be surprised to see teams that get fed up with Josh Smith’s dominance inside to start throwing zones at Georgetown more often.
Most of Northeastern’s damage was done in the second half, as they outscored Georgetown 38-20 in the final 20 minutes. That zone completely stagnated offensive attack, and it also seemed to sap them of energy defensively. Northeastern really bullied the Hoyas on the glass for the final 20 minutes
Georgetown will play Kansas State, who lost to Charlotte earlier today, in the consolation bracket tomorrow.