Georgetown Hoyas guard Markel Starks (5) celebrates with guard Jabril Trawick (55). (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan. 4, 2014
By Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON - D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 20 of his season-high 31 points in the first half as Georgetown raced out to a commanding halftime lead and never looked back in defeating St. John's, 77-60, in the 100th all-time meeting between the schools on Saturday afternoon in front of 10,164 fans at Verizon Center.
Georgetown (10-3, 2-0) has now won nine of its last ten games and starts the season with consecutive BIG EAST victories for the fifth time in coach John Thompson III's ten seasons at the helm. St. John's fell to 9-5, 0-2 and was led by reserve Max Hooper's 13 points off the bench.
While the Hoyas still trail the all-time series with St. John's 53-47, Georgetown holds a 36-30 advantage in conference play. Thompson III improved to 13-4 against the Red Storm at Georgetown.
Smith-Rivera scored nine of the Hoyas first 11 points, including three three-pointers, as Georgetown took an early 11-4 lead which lead to an immediate St. John's timeout.
Smith-Rivera finished the game shooting 9-of-12, including a career-best 6-of-7 from long distance, to go along with another all-around game that included six rebounds, three assists, and his first block of the season.
Smith-Rivera became just the second Hoya to record multiple 30-point games under Coach John Thompson III. Former Georgetown great Austin Freeman is the only other player to accomplish the feat, doing some on four occasions.
"I think it was more of my teammates finding me in areas where I was open," Smith-Rivera said after the game, crediting the efforts of his teammates.
"Markel did a great job today of just finding the open guys and I was one of them."
Senior captain Markel Starks was instrumental in the Hoyas building a 42-16 halftime bulge by dishing out all four of his assists in the opening minutes. As a team the Hoyas assisted on an incredible 14 of 15 made shots in the first half, with two drawing praise from Coach Thompson III.
Moments before halftime Starks again made the right decision leading the break before finding Aaron Bowen for a two-handed flush in what has become a regular scene at the Verizon Center as the senior guard increased the lead to 40-13 with just 1:18 before the break.
Trawick finished with nine points and four assists while Bowen came up with five points and four rebounds and hit a three-pointer in consecutive games for the second time in his career.
Starks, who had led the Georgetown in scoring the past four games, was the only other Hoyas in double figures with 12 points to go along with five rebounds.
"In the first half I thought Markel threw two helluva passes - one to Jabril and when AB got that dunk," Thompson III said in the post-game press conference. "I thought Markel, I don't know how many points he scored but I thought he was good today in making sure everybody got the ball including D'Vauntes."
Joshua Smith set a season-high with four steals, all in the first half, as Georgetown turned St. John's over eleven times in the opening twenty minutes.
Smith also tied a season-high with six rebounds to go along with five points.
"In the first half they had their way, they controlled the paint, able to get high percentage looks and they shut us down," St. John's coach Steve Lavin explained as the reason for the early lopsided score.
Georgetown held St. John's to just 6-of-28 from the field in the first half (21 percent) while shooting 15-of-24 (63 percent) on the other end, including a blistering 6-of-9 (67 percent) from deep.
The Hoyas once again stifled St. John's leading score D'Aangelo Harrison, holding the high scoring guard to just 1-of-12 shooting and four points - 16 below his 20 point average but with all conference rivalries, Coach Thompson III knows there will be another game, another chapter to be written later this season.
"100th Matchup between Georgetown and St. John's.... you think back to all of the memorable moments - the Sweater game, Chris Mullin, you start naming names, Felipe Lopez and along with all of our guys, that's what conference play is about," Thompson III lamented afterwards.
"Over time you have those special moments. That's one of the things that I'm excited as we get going with this new conference that you are going to strengthen or heighten the traditions. That's what happens when you play a team two, three times a year. That's the beauty of conference play"
Georgetown begins a three game road trip on Wednesday, January 8 when they face Providence at 7 PM on Fox Sports1.
Georgetown is back on the road for the next three games, starting on Wednesday, Jan. 8, visiting BIG EAST rival Providence for the first league road games of the season. Tip-off at the Dunkin' Donuts Center is slated for 7 p.m. The game will be shown live on Fox Sports 1 and can be heard locally on ESPN 980 AM.
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