WASHINGTON, D.C. — After Georgetown sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera made four 3-pointers, converted five buckets in the paint and sank all 10 of his free throws, a reporter asked Bob Huggins about the challenge of defending him.

“I don’t think he felt like it was much of a challenge,” Huggins chirped.

Smith-Rivera scored a season-high 32 points, 23 of those in a dazzling second half that carried the Hoyas to a 77-65 throwback win over its old Big East rival West Virginia.

“He was in rhythm today,” said Georgetown point guard Markel Starks of Smith-Rivera. “You go through practices and you scrimmage against one another and he is hitting shots and you are like ‘gosh.’ And then you finally see it tonight.

“That’s big. Unbelievable game. Unbelievable.”

After Georgetown used an 8-0 run to seize the lead in early in the second half, Smith-Rivera scored nine points during a 15-2 flurry that widened the Hoyas’ lead to 67-51 with 3:47 left.

“(Smith-Rivera) really got going, scored it a number of ways,” said West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten. “He basically made us pay for every mistake we made on the defensive end.”

And there were many.

Georgetown (18-14) shot 52 percent and piled up 47 points in the second half, sending the sold-out McDonough Arena crowd of 2,133 into hysteria. Students who helped pack the tiny on-campus gym chanted “Go home, West Virginia!” when the lead swelled to double-digits. Later came a mock rendition of “Country Roads” that doubled as WVU’s swan song.

“The fans got us a little rattled, but it’s a do-or-die game so you can’t have that kind of excuse,” said Terry Henderson, who summed up WVU’s trouble as “being lazy on defense.”

The Mountaineers ranked at the bottom of the Big 12 in defense for a reason—a point Huggins bemoaned all season.

“We haven’t guarded all year. If we can’t outscore you, we’re not going to win, which is a terrible, terrible way to be,” he said. “I hate saying that, and I hate it being that way, but we just don’t guard well enough that we can not make shots, because we let other people make them.”

Though the Mountaineers shot 44.9 percent overall to Georgetown’s 44.2 percent, the second-half totals weighed heavily in the Hoyas’ favor and the visitors couldn’t make momentum-changing shots.

West Virginia finished 6-of-21 from 3-point range, including 0-of-7 by Remi Dibo, who had at least three misses rattle in and out. After one wide-open shot from the top of circle pinballed out of the basket, Dibo shook his head in disbelief as he glanced over at Huggins.

“Remi had great looks, but didn’t make any,” Huggins said. “I’m sitting here looking at this (stat feet): If Remi Dibo goes 0-for-7 from 3 and Eron Harris goes 2-for-7, we’re not going to win. We’re just not going to win.”

Freshman forward Brandon Watkins played three minutes in the opening half before going to the bench with two fouls. One came when he arrived late on a moving screen, and the other was a backcourt bump that tripe Aaron Bowen.

In the second half, Watkins made an even briefer cameo. He entered at the 17:50 mark and gave only a timid swipe at a loose ball after Harris was stripped on a drive. Georgetown grabbed the 50-50 bal and turned it into a Smith-Rivera 3-pointer for a 39-36 lead.

Huggins called a 30-second timeout at 16:40 and subbed out Watkins, never to return.

After the game, Huggins said: “We had some guys who certainly could have played a whole lot harder.”

Georgetown’s first men’s game at McDonough Arena in more than four years featured a hypercharged atmosphere that had sentimentalists yearning for more.

“It was unbelievable, the energy that we got from the fans,” said coach John Thompson III. “The students, the young alums, the old alums. It was a great environment. … I wish we could have that environment at the Verizon Center.”

That energy doesn’t typically translate because the Hoyas average just 9,106 fans at the 20,000-seat Verizon Center (which was prepping for a circus Tuesday night). Yet it’s not feasible for Georgetown to play games on campus in a gym that’s one-10th Verizon’s size.

“We have some financial responsibilities,” Thompson said. “And much as it’s a great environment (at McDonough), I think playing here we lose a lot of money that we could gain even on a bad-attended day at the Verizon Center.”

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  • jack

    Just got through reading an article on John Beilein. He's been a winner at every school he's coached. I remember when he came to WV and cleaned house. He said he wanted players with character. He said you either have it or you don't. Every season, even with new players, he never missed a beat. He gets the best out of his players. They are talented and they play hard the whole game. Maybe someone around here will take notice and learn from him.

    • Aaron

      I love John Beilien as a coach. I agreed when Bobby Knight called him one of the best coaches in America.

      As a WV fan, I was greatly appreciative of what he did for WV and when he decided to move on to Michigan, I wished him the best. As much as I dislike UM (I was hoping he would get the Indiana job but NC State was ignorant for not buying out his contract), I rooted for them in last years championship game simply because of him.

      While I wish he would have had the desire to retire at WV, that is not who he is.

  • jack

    Dismal on defense. Opposing players have career games against WVU. Staten is solid every game, but he doesn't like losing so he may not be back next season. WV players are often out of position and commit silly fouls. When things start to go south, they panic and fold like the "not ready for prime time players". Hopefully, it will get better next season.

  • John

    49 wins
    48 losses

    Huggins record over last 3 seasons! Does that sound like an elite coach making 3 mil per year?


    I'm sorry... I haven't read all the comments, but "put in Chase Connor" - what a joke! The problem this year stems from not having the players (aside from Staten), i.e. the coach running off 2 consecutive recruiting classes with his bad attitude. $3M/year, 3rd active winningest coach, raised $28M in 2 years to build a practice gym, but cannot get players to come here. No ESPN Top 100 recruits again for next year, but UNLV and Va. Commonwealth get 3 each, and so on. It will be a pleasure to watch Aric Murray on TV tonight. I wish Texas Southern the best...

    • Aaron

      They lost but Arric Murray, who credited Huggins for helping him with the issues that plagued him, scored 38. While I know he could have helped WV this year, turning his life around was more important. I'm sure that if he remains on the path he is, when he speaks of Coach Huggins to his grand kids, it will not be in a negative manner.

  • pghmountaineer

    I for one have been critical of Huggs this season based on his struggles with recruiting and the way he sometimes treats his players in public. I truly believe he has a great basketball mind (second to none) but I think his approach to the players may have passed him by. These kids are different today. Many of them are legends in their own minds and don't like to be yelled at all the time. It's demotivating for them.
    I know that this consistent losing is wearing on Huggs and it appears he doesn't have an answer because he knows the team on the floor can't compete on a CONSISTENT basis. And at the same time his recruits (on balance) are 3 star players at best. I think if they truly paid attention to him they would be a better team. But like Huggs, they have egos too and they can't relate.
    It's a constant tug of war.
    Bob Knight ened his career the same way. He refused to adapt to the premadonnas that are coming out of high school. Which was why he was unable to recruit 4 & 5 star players his last 7 to 10 years.

  • don

    What kind of defense are these guys playing? Not just in last nights game but all season, the opposition just passes around the perimeter and all 5 defensive players wind up in a tight little knot on one side of the floor, leaving a wide open shooter all alone on the opposite side.

  • don

    I hate to say I told you so, but I predicted this. When we play a team with a great shooter it seems the wv players like to just stand back and watch him. Also, I say once again to all who think the big 12 is so much better than the big east; just look at the results.

  • john franks

    Perhaps Hugs could find girlfriends on the women's team for the rest of the players. Seemed to help Staten's game.
    I read where he spent a lot of time in the gym in the off season helping a young lady rehab her knee.

  • John S. Shackelford

    Georgetown put WVU's stumbling, bumbling men's basketball team out of its season-long misery! I have followed WVU since childhood and this is the worst team I have ever seen. More wins but NO TEAM. Huggins is going to have to remember the term, logistics, logistics, logistics. You can't win games consistently with a short bench, no post play and defenses that found out how to defense Harris and Henderson. Ignore Staten and stand at the three point line defensing Harris and Henderson regardless. Huggins seems driven to gamble on recruits with dubious academics. He's gambling and now he's losing. He hasn't had a winning hand for the last two seasons. I am not telling him how to coach his team. Lord knows he has forgotten more about coaching than I ever knew. He's Magna Cum Laude and I am sure not going to try to measure up to him. But we have got to get this thing turned around.

  • JHT

    Unbelievable letdown. They had better find a defense next year. Unexcusable. It was obvious that Georgetown wanted it much more than WVU.

  • Rick55

    Did the team give great effort and show they really want to learn to do the right thing? Check. Did we improve by seven games over last year? Check. Is there good reason to think that we will improve by at least seven games next year? Check. Do I see William, his numerous aliases, or the other trolls applying for various coaching jobs because you're so brilliant at it? 0. Have you ever won over 700 games as head coach? 0. Does anybody with even half a brain really think that Huggins is complacent, lazy, or apathetic? 000. Go Mountaineers!!!!!!!!!

  • John

    This was a case of just plain bad D. Any team would have beaten WVU last night with their effort in the 2nd half. Georgetown had wide open 3's; easy, straight line lay-ups, etc. Until WVU can stop someone (football or basketball), we will continue to have seasons like this. Players are to share in the blame as they need to have some pride in wearing the jersey with the name on the front instead of worrying about the name on the back. Huggs did not forget how to coach as he has the record to prove it. You don't get to 700+ wins without knowing what you are doing. Jury is still out on Holgs.

  • gnarly dude

    WVU shot 44%. Gtown shot 44%.
    Gtown came up with almost every loose
    ball and had lots of second chance baskets.
    Desire was the difference.

  • TruthTeller

    Well I am very very very disappointed in this team. I believed they could of won the whole thing. How can you beat Kansas and not Georgetown? I have watched WVU basketball for over 40 years and I am very disappointed. We have gone from having a traditional top 25 basketball university to a team that could get easily beat by a solid high school team. Some times the truth is hard to face but I think its time for Huggs to wake up and start getting a different type of talent. He needs players that can shoot the lights out and play those athletes not sit them on the bench. He needs players who are aggressive and not timid. This team plays like they are only 5 inches tall and their opponents are giants. Do they even practice? Sometimes they look lost and don't seem to be on the same page. May be Huggins is burnt out? Maybe its time for Huggins to retire? I just don't like what WVU basketball has become that is for sure. Such a disappointment.

  • John

    Just poor effort on the defensive side of the court. Georgetown had either wide open looks or easy lay-ups with little to know pressure. Much like the football team, until we can stop someone, our bball team will be average at best. Holgs and Huggs need to take a cue from the Coach Mazey. Have seen WVU baseball several times this season. Their pitching and defense our outstanding and they will win their fair share of games doing it that way.