Dec. 12, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Isaiah Thomas slipped into the paint and tried one of his patented body-bending layups that usually work so well. Georgetown's Julian Vaughn smoothly stretched across the 5-foot-8 Washington guard's body to swat it away.
Georgetown was just too imposing for the Huskies in the Wooden Classic - and the hulking Hoyas should be looking increasingly scary to their Big East foes back home as well.
Vaughn scored a career-high 18 points, and No. 15 Georgetown pulled away in the second half for its second victory over a ranked opponent in five days, beating No. 17 Washington 74-66 on Saturday.
"Our guys do a really good job of figuring out where we have an advantage, and tonight it was Jules," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
Greg Monroe had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Hoyas (8-0), who scored 12 straight points after halftime during a 21-2 run. Playing more than 2,600 miles from home, the impressive surge abruptly blew open a previously tight game in the annual doubleheader held to honor John Wooden, UCLA's famed 99-year-old coach.
The game also appeared to be a breakout moment for Vaughn, a junior who transferred from Florida State. The 6-9 forward did little for the Hoyas last season, and he's the only starter averaging fewer than 12 points per game this season.
"Jules is going to have a few more nights like tonight," Thompson said. "He's done a really good job being a presence for us. We just went to him, and he did what he was supposed to do."
If Vaughn plays alongside Monroe at this impressive level - with 7-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds - during the Big East schedule, the young Hoyas could be ready for a conference title run, Vaughn believes.
"The whole group has a lot of chemistry," Vaughn said. "We try to exploit matchups, but we also grind out the offense and keep it going. Everybody is looking for each other, and we're trying to find the best matchups."
Thomas scored 15 of his 21 points after halftime for the Huskies (6-2) while leading a late 15-3 run, but Washington couldn't close a 20-point deficit in the stiffest challenge of both teams' young seasons.
Quincy Pondexter, the only senior on either roster, scored 23 points for the Huskies, who haven't beaten a Big East team in 20 years. Washington, which made 25 turnovers, lost at Texas Tech last week in the defending Pac-10 champions' only game away from Seattle before this weekend.
"We let up a little bit," Pondexter said. "That's all it takes to lose these games. Any slippage or breakdown on the defensive end can cost you."
Washington's biggest problem is still balance: Pondexter and Thomas excelled, but no other Washington player scored more than five points.
"Our other guys have to find a rhythm and shoot the ball more confidently," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "These guys have to come out and be aggressive. (Pondexter and Thomas) have been carrying the scoring load whether we were at home or on the road."
After beating No. 22 Butler in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night with career highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds by Monroe, the Hoyas crossed the country to participate in a doubleheader at a hockey rink. Thompson said he made the deliberately tough schedule to steel his team for the rigors of Big East play.
"Washington and Butler have two really different styles of play," Thompson said. "I wanted that (challenge), because within our league, we have that on a weekly basis."
After Georgetown held a one-point lead at halftime of the schools' first-ever meeting, Vaughn scored six points during the Hoyas' decisive run, including a dunk to put them up 51-31 just over 6 minutes into the second half. Washington didn't manage a field goal in the second half until Thomas' layup with 15:56 to play, but Georgetown scored nine straight points after that.
The Hoyas led 60-40 with 6 1/2 minutes to play, before Thomas and Pondexter trimmed the final margin. Thomas' layup put Washington within 69-63 with 27 seconds left before Chris Wright and Hollis Thompson hit key free throws.
Three time zones away from home, Georgetown had a strong fan contingent at the Honda Center, including fans of Hollis Thompson, a Los Angeles native - and a profoundly hairy gentleman who shaved his chest just enough to inscribe "HOYA" in silver paint.