WASHINGTON (AP) - No. 15 Georgetown has a 10-1 start going into Big East play, even though at times the Hoyas haven't looked anything like a 10-1 team.
A lack of scoring made a couple of the wins almost painful to watch, and coach John Thompson III felt the need to put his starters back in the game in the second half of Saturday's 65-48 win over D.C. neighbor American after the Hoyas' lead was cut from 26 points to 14.
But, as Thompson points out, it sure beat the alternative. The ledger says the Hoyas have won seven straight, and the season's only loss came in overtime to then-No. 1 Indiana.
"Is it a 10-1 I'm happy with? As opposed to a 10-1 I'm not happy with?" Thompson said with a chuckle. "I'm happy with where we are. ... Now, none of us in that locker room are sitting there with our heads in the sand saying we're playing perfect basketball, and we all realize that there's so many areas we can get better at."
Thompson added: "You'd never ask a coach if that's flipped - 1-10 - 'Are you happy with that?'"
Fair enough. Regardless, the Hoyas now get two weeks to work on their flaws before the conference schedule begins at Marquette on Jan. 5. Among the issues from the game on Saturday: a sluggish start that included poor perimeter defense, allowing the Eagles to stay close with 3-pointers until Georgetown took control with an 11-2 run at the end of the first half and an 8-0 spurt to start the second.
"Their first three baskets were 3s," Thompson said. "And we have to stop that."
Otto Porter had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Greg Whittington added 13 points for the Hoyas, who took advantage of the inevitable talent gap between schools from the Big East and Patriot League. Georgetown has a nine-game winning streak over American, its last defeat coming 30 years ago when Patrick Ewing and Co. lost by one point in what still stands as the biggest intra-city upset in the nation's capital.
These days, it would be a stretch to say the teams are rivals - the atmosphere at the Verizon Center was relaxed, especially with the cheerleaders, band and many other students away for Christmas - and the bigger conversations surrounding Georgetown center on its decision a week ago to join a group of schools that will break away from the Big East, perhaps taking the name with them.
Daniel Munoz scored 15 points to lead the Eagles (4-8), who were playing the first half of a tough but money-making stretch. They visit No. 9 Kansas next Saturday.
"The odds are against the little guy that's playing the guarantee game," American coach Jeff Jones said.
The Eagles committed only seven turnovers - one after halftime - but the mistakes were untimely. Three first-half plays by the Hoyas' defense defined the game as well as any: Porter made a nice linebacker-like interception at midcourt and was fouled taking the ball to the basket, Whittington pulled off a backcourt steal and drew a blocking foul on the way to the hoop for a three-point play, and Jabril Trawick had a steal in the frontcourt and fed Porter for a fast-break layup.
"Nobody's going to be perfect, and sometimes you make mistakes," Jones said. "But at least three of the six (turnovers) in the first half were just kind of careless, and there was no reason to even attempt the play - and it resulted in quick points by Georgetown."