Western Carolina (4-6) at (15) Georgetown (8-1)
Saturday, December 15, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Verizon Center (18,277) -- Washington, D.C. Television: MASN. Home Record: WCU 2-0, Georgetown 6-0. Away Record: WCU 1-5, Georgetown 0-0. Neutral Record: WCU 1-1, Georgetown 2-1. Conference Record: Georgetown 0-0, WCU 2-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 15th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas attempt to stay perfect at the Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon, as they play host to the Western Carolina Catamounts in non-conference action.
WCU has had an up-and-down start to the season. The good news is that is has won both of its home games and is 2-0 in Southern Conference action, including a 70-64 over Appalachian State last Saturday. However, the Catamounts have not had much success away from home, winning just one of their six matchups.
After starting the season unranked, Georgetown has risen to No. 15 behind a fantastic 8-1 start, with its only defeat coming on a neutral floor against top-ranked Indiana in overtime, 82-72. The Hoyas have reeled off five straight wins since that defeat, most recently taking down Longwood on Monday night, 89-53.
This matchup marks the inaugural meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.
The inconsistent nature of WCU's early season has resulted in a nearly identical scoring averages, both for (72.3 ppg) and against (72.2 ppg). It also battles hard on the boards (plus-1.4 rebounding margin) while sporting a narrow plus-0.4 turnover margin. The Catamounts found themselves down by double digits in the second half against Appalachian State, but thanks in part to big showings from the foul line (15-of-20) and beyond the arc (5-of-10) after intermission, they were able to pull off the comeback. Pacing four players in double figures was Tom Tankelewicz, who went 5-of-8 from 3-point range en route to 19 points. Tawaski King (14 points), Trey Sumler (13 points), and James Sinclair (12 points) all grabbed at least six rebounds. On the season, Sumler has been one of the SoCon's best players, averaging 16.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.2 apg and 1.6 spg. King tallies 13.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg, and Tankelewicz (10.4 ppg) has drained 30 treys at a 40.5 percent clip.
The primary reason for Georgetown's success has been due to its stout play at the defensive end, as it ranks among the nation's elite in field goal percentage defense (.377) and scoring defense (54.0 ppg). Against Longwood, the Hoyas were able to keep up their defensive prowess while also putting together their best offensive showing of the campaign in the 36-point rout. They shot 53.7 percent from the field, and were led by 22 points from Otto Porter, who also added seven assists, four rebounds and four steals to his stat line, Markel Starks also had a big night, making 4-of-5 shots from 3- point range for 17 points. Georgetown relies on contributions from each of its starters, with all five averaging at least 8.0 ppg. Porter is not only the leading scorer with 13.0 ppg, but he is shooting 51.9 percent from the field, grabbing 6.9 rpg, dishing out 3.4 apg and contributing 2.4 spg and 1.6 bpg at the defensive end. Starks (11.8 ppg) and Greg Whittington (11.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers.
WCU has a solid squad that should make some noise in the SoCon this year, but it simply isn't equipped to take down an elite team, especially on the road. Georgetown will once again use a suffocating defensive approach to claim its sixth straight win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgetown 76, Western Carolina 56
12/15 10:35:53 ET