Georgetown appears able to hold its own even when star Roy Hibbert is not at his best.
The fifth-ranked Hoyas hope for another balanced effort and try to remain undefeated when they face Alabama on Wednesday night in Birmingham as part of the SEC/Big East Invitational.
Despite a season-low seven points from preseason All-American Hibbert, Georgetown (5-0) beat Fairfield 61-49 at home Saturday.
It was the first time this season the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, who averages 14.4 points, didn’t lead the Hoyas in scoring. Though he had seven rebounds, Hibbert took just three shots and went 3-for-5 at the free-throw line in 25 minutes as he battled double-teams and foul trouble.
While Hibbert - the only Georgetown player to average double figures - was held in check, his teammates offered plenty of support as the Hoyas overcame a 9-for-22 free-throw shooting performance.
Sophomore DaJuan Summers had a season-high 16 points and senior guard Jonathan Wallace added 13 for the Hoyas, who needed to close the game with a 16-5 run to seal the victory.
Other than Hibbert, three starters return from last season’s team that reached the national semifinals. The Hoyas also have talented sophomore reserves in Jeremiah Rivers and Vernon Macklin.
“Overall as a team they’re a pretty good team,” Alabama junior guard Brandon Hollinger said. “They’re a top five team, so we’ve got to prepare very hard for these guys.”
Rivers had nine points and five assists Saturday while replacing guard Jessie Sapp, who suffered a head injury early in the game. It’s uncertain if Sapp will be in the lineup against Alabama (4-2), which will face its second top 10 opponent in eight days.
“By learning from the juniors and the seniors, you know, we learned from all of them, so now it’s time for us to help out the team and it’s our turn to step up and play too,” Macklin said.
The 6-8 Summers, who started on last season’s team, averages 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, but does the little things that have helped the Hoyas to their best start since opening 10-0 in 2003-04.
“He needs to run down rebounds. He needs to make defensive plays. The baskets, the points, will come,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “But he has the ability to be pretty successful in a lot of different areas - the areas that are dirty, the hustle stuff. Not to say he can’t do the pretty things, also.”
Summers could be in for another big night Wednesday if Hibbert has trouble shaking Alabama’s 6-9 junior Richard Hendrix.
Hendrix, a preseason All-SEC pick who averages 21.8 points and 12.8 rebounds, overcame foul trouble to finish with 17 points and four blocks in the Crimson Tide’s 63-61 overtime home win over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday.
“I think that when you go through Richard Hendrix’s career, he’s not going to play against very many guys like (Hibbert),” said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, who was an assistant on the U.S. Pan-Am Games team that Hibbert played for over the summer.
“There are not a lot of players like him so we need to get ready for that more than anything.”
Hendrix had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Tide in a 76-63 loss to then-No. 9 Texas A&M last Wednesday.
Alabama, picked third in the SEC West Division, returns two starters from last season’s team that went 20-12 but lost to Massachusetts in the first round of the NIT.
Alabama leads 2-1 in the all-time series with Georgetown, winning 94-73 during the 1982-83 season in the teams’ most recent meeting.