WASHINGTON (AP)—Roy Hibbert decided to ditch the T-shirt he usually wears under his jersey. The result was his best offensive game in nearly a month—and his worst rebounding game in nearly two years.
The 7-foot-2 preseason All-American broke double digits in points for only the second time in six games Saturday, scoring 14 in No. 8 Georgetown’s 78-51 victory over crosstown rival American.
The T-shirt under the jersey has been a trademark look for Georgetown centers, from Patrick Ewing to Alonzo Mourning to Dikembe Mutombo to—at least until now—Hibbert.
“I decided to change my whole attitude,” said Hibbert, obviously having fun with the topic. “I think that started with that. … I think the T-shirt was making me sweat a little bit more and holding me back a little bit, so I thought I’d try something different for right now.”
Hibbert, who said he needed to be more assertive after scoring a season-low six points in a loss at No. 2 Memphis a week earlier, made the game’s first basket and finished 6-for-9 from the field.
Somehow he managed to grab only one rebound in 20 minutes—and that came on the offensive glass with Hoyas leading by 20 late in the second half. It was his worst day on the boards since a one-rebound game against South Florida on Jan. 17, 2006.
Overall, the Hoyas outrebounded the Eagles by only two—28-26—despite a height advantage of at least 2 inches at every starting position.
“Our rebounding is an issue,” coach John Thompson III said. “We have to pursue the ball better than we have been. For us to win this year, we have to do a better job of limiting people to one shot and, just as important, getting second shots for us. It’s across the board; it’s not just Roy.”
Still, the Hoyas (9-1) dominated the game, thus avoiding a fate suffered by their predecessors 25 years ago.
Before the game, American alumni and former players held a brunch to commemorate the biggest win in school history, a 62-61 victory over Georgetown on Dec. 15, 1982. The Hoyas, coached by Thompson’s father and led by Ewing, were ranked No. 5 at the time and would win the national championship the following season.
With Thompson III now the coach and Ewing Jr. in Georgetown’s starting lineup, the Eagles had hoped that they could pull the upset again. They were buoyed by their win a week earlier over Maryland—their first victory over the neighboring Terrapins in 80 years—and took a 19-13 lead over the Hoyas when guards Derrick Mercer and Garrison Carr started 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
Then the Hoyas turned the game around by doing the obvious: They stopped letting Mercer and Carr shoot. Unable to get an open look, the pair combined for only three points the rest of the half. Georgetown went on a 19-4 run, led 38-28 at halftime and doused any comeback hopes with an 8-3 spurt to open the second half.
“We did a conscious effort to do a better job of protecting the 3-point line,” Thompson said, “as opposed to giving them the Sunday, driveway, down-at-the-park, at-the-Boys’-Club shots.”
Mercer finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Carr added 16 points for the Eagles (7-6). The pair combined to make 11 of American’s 18 field goals.
“Their defense was just stifling,” American coach Jeff Jones said. “We got off to a good start and made some shots, and they really upped the energy level. And we didn’t have an answer for that.”
The Hoyas shot 71 percent in the first half and 60 percent for the game. DaJuan Summers finished with 16 points, and Chris Wright had 13.
Both coaches downplayed any motivational impact from the 1982 upset—it’s ancient history for their players—but Georgetown was fully aware how embarrassing it would have been to lose.
“Obviously you have a lot of pressure,” Hibbert said. “You don’t want to lose to a team that’s 10, 15 minutes away from our campus.”