IU-Georgetown Gameday Preview: 3 Key Things to Watch

On Tuesday at 10:00 ET, the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (4-0) will take on the Georgetown Hoyas (3-0) at the Barclays Center in the Finals of the Progressive Legends Classic.

As always, Jerod, Ryan, Zach, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call after the game.

IU-Georgetown Gameday Info

IU-Georgetown Preview

Georgetown: Three Things to Watch

1. Otto Porter

While Cody Zeller is the more highly touted sophomore in this contest, Georgetown boasts a super soph of their own in Otto Porter.

After scoring 9.8 points and grabbing 6.7 boards per game as a freshman, Porter was expected to step into a starring role for the Hoyas this season, but things didn’t exactly go as planned to start the year.

First, Georgetown made it through half of their season opener before condensation claimed another aircraft carrier game. Then Porter took a blow to the head early in the Hoyas’ next game against Duquesne and missed their third game with a concussion.

However, Porter’s return against UCLA on Monday was a triumphant one, as he stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, and three steals. He even made both of his three-point attempts after shooting 22.6 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman.

Porter is 6-8, which combined with his versatility will make him a tough matchup for the Hoosiers. Look for Christian Watford, Will Sheehey, and maybe even Victor Oladipo to take a crack at slowing down Georgetown’s star.

2. The 2-3 Zone

The Hoyas played a decent amount of zone against UCLA on Monday night, and based on how poorly IU players not named Jordan Hulls shot the ball against Georgia, I have to think the Hoosiers will see a heavy dose of it in this matchup.

What makes Georgetown’s zone particularly effective is their tremendous length. For long stretches against the Bruins, 6-8 forward Greg Whittington played at the top of the zone, which will make it tough for IU’s players to shoot or pass over the zone.

As a team, the Hoosiers connected on just 5-of-16 from beyond the arc against Georgia, and outside of Hulls, the Hoosiers made just 1-of-10 from long range. IU certainly has capable shooters, but Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, and Yogi Ferrell are now a combined 3-of-22 on three-pointers this season.

The Hoosiers were most effective against Georgia when they were attacking the basket, so it will be important not to take a passive approach against the Georgetown zone.

3. Markel Starks

While the Hoyas have a ton of size, there isn’t a ton of depth in the backcourt, but Starks definitely answered the bell against UCLA on Monday.

The 6-3 junior guard went off for 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting after scoring a combined 12 points in Georgetown’s first two contests.  Starks was rather inconsistent as a sophomore, scoring in double figures on 10 occasions while managing four or fewer points 12 times.

IU’s perimter defense will need to keep Starks in check, which is something UCLA simply could not do in the Semifinals.

Indiana: Three Things to Watch

1. Cody Zeller

Based on Tom Crean’s postgame comments, Zeller is still dealing with an illness, and he had not practiced much leading up to Monday’s game.

Whether it was the sickness or the parade of big bodies the Bulldogs ran at him, Zeller managed just six points and four rebounds while turning the ball over four times. His four shot attempts were his fewest since the second game of last season, and he looked generally uncomfortable throughout.

The Hoyas are tough defensively, and like the Bulldogs, they have plenty of size to throw at Zeller. IU managed to overcome an off night from their star on Monday, but I’m not sure they could do the same against a more talented Georgetown squad.

2. Tempo

This matchup provides a nice contrast in styles, as the Hoosiers want to get out and run while the Hoyas would prefer turning the game into a half court grinder.

UCLA had far more success attacking Georgetown in transition before the Hoyas could set up their defense, and IU will look to do the same. If the Hoyas can slow the game down, IU’s improved defense will be tested by Georgetown’s methodical offense, which employs nearly constant motion and precise cuts.

3. Christian Watford

After being held out of the starting lineup against Sam Houston State last Thursday, Watford was back among the starting five versus Georgia.

However, he got off to a slow start and scored all seven of his first half points in the last 7:32. Watford started the second half on the bench, hit a clutch three-pointer around the 10-minute mark, and notched his final four points in the last 4:18.

So while his final statline was relatively impressive with 14 points, it was another uneven performance. Watford also finished with just three rebounds, which simply has to improve against Georgetown.

I will be interested to see whether he starts on Tuesday night. As I mentioned on the last couple shows, I am starting to wonder whether Watford is someone who benefits from watching the flow of the game unfold and actually plays better off the bench. During his first few seasons, the talent level simply didn’t allow Crean to use Watford as a bench player, but that isn’t necessarily the case now.

Regardless of whether Watford starts or not, his play will be critical against a team with such a talented frontline.

Final Thought

The Hoosiers are coming off of their worst performance of the season and will be facing their toughest opponent so far.

The Hoyas have a number of talented players along the front line and are tough to guard defensively. Unlike Georgia, they don’t settle for many three-pointers and are far more apt to attack the basket, as evidenced by the Hoyas’ gaudy two-point shooting percentage and a relatively high free throw rate. This will be a major test for IU’s defense, who will need to find a way to slow down Starks in the backcourt and Porter up front.

On the other end of the floor, the Hoosiers can’t get lulled into settling for three-pointers against Georgetown’s zone. They have to stay aggressive and attempt to draw fouls, which is ultimately what kept them close in the first half against Georgia when other shots weren’t falling.

UCLA had some success putting Kyle Anderson at the high post where he could see over the defense and find open teammates.  IU will need to do something similar, so look for Watford or Sheehey to play that role.

One other thing to watch for IU will be how much time Hulls and Ferrell play at the same time. Given Georgetown’s height, playing two 6-0 guards could be a risky proposition for the Hoosiers.  At a minimum, it would mean that Indiana will play more of their own 2-3 zone, which was effective against Georgia on Monday.

For the third time in four games, the Hoosiers got off to a sluggish start, and they managed to beat Georgia despite not playing their best basketball.

With Zeller struggling and a number of players in foul trouble, IU’s depth was tested, but ultimately it was the play of Hulls and Oladipo that made the difference against the Bulldogs. While that’s certainly a testament to the fact that the Hoosiers have a number of players who can shoulder the load on any given night, I’m not sure they can survive another off night from Zeller.

I’ll take my chances that he bounces back against the Hoyas and leads the Hoosiers to a six-point victory.

**********

Listen to Andy Tuesday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.

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