NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—John Thompson III didn’t like the idea of a home-and-home series with Vanderbilt a year ago. What a difference an easy victory makes.
Jeff Green scored 19 points, Roy Hibbert added 18 with 10 rebounds, and eighth-ranked Georgetown never trailed in beating Vanderbilt 86-70 on Wednesday night.
The victory was a nice bit of revenge for the Hoyas (2-0) who lost at home last season to Vanderbilt after blowing a 13-point lead in that game, originally arranged to help prepare Georgetown for the Big East portion of the schedule.
“When you come away with a win, you say it’s a great plan,” Thompson said. “This time last year, I thought it was a horrible plan.”
Not this time as Georgetown used its size with the 7-foot-2 Hibbert and speed to drive to the basket repeatedly for easy layups. The Hoyas outshot (52.5 percent to 41.5 percent) and outrebounded Vandy 38-33 in putting the game away.
“We’re pretty happy, but we have to move on,” Hibbert said. “We have to make more strides and get prepared for the next game.”
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said his Commodores ran into a good team.
“I thought our guys played with great effort and energy, but at times, they were just too big on the inside,” he said.
It was a cold dose of reality for Vanderbilt, which went 17-13 last season and has high expectations this season with the addition of 6-9 Ross Neltner, a transfer from LSU.
“Playing the No. 8 team gives us a gauge as to where we are right now,” Vandy junior Derrick Byars said. “It’s better than playing Unknown State University A&M. This is better for us in the long run. We played one of the top five front courts in America.”
Jonathan Wallace had 16 points, and Jessie Sapp had 11 for the Hoyas. Tyler Crawford, who started in the opener against Hartford, did not play because he had a 100-degree fever.
Alex Gordon had 15 points off the bench, and Byars added 14 for Vanderbilt, which lost its season opener on its home court for the first time since 1990. Dan Cage had 10 points.
But Shan Foster, the Southeastern Conference’s third-leading returning scorer, went 0-of-5 from the floor and had a pair of free throws for his only points. That was well below his 15.9-point average last season.
“Shan just had a bad game,” Thompson said. “Our guys were extremely attentive to where he was. He’s such a good player. It’s hard to guard the kid. But we were just trying to be extremely attentive to where he was.”
Georgetown led 39-35 at halftime, and Byars had a steal and a layup to start the second half and pull the Commodores within 39-37. They didn’t come closer than five the rest of the way.
Green, who played only seven minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul, played 16 minutes in the second half where he scored 14 of his points.
“Hibbert got us in foul trouble early,” Stallings said. “When they had the lead, then in comes Green. He’s a tough matchup, and we don’t have anyone that matches up well with him.”
Vanderbilt had been 62-4 against non-conference opponents in Memorial Gym, and this was its first home game against a Top 10 team not from the SEC since Dec. 9, 1992. But the Commodores lost for the ninth straight time to a ranked opponents after going 0-6 in such games last season.
The Hoyas missed four of their first five shots, then reeled off seven of the next eight to take control. Hibbert had 11 of the Hoyas’ 18 points inside the paint in the opening minutes, and Wallace hit a pair of free throws for a 27-15 lead with 8:38 left in the first half.
Vanderbilt hadn’t lost on its home court to open a season since losing to Arkansas on Nov. 14, 1990. But the Commodores missed seven of their first eight shots and turned the ball over on each of their first three possessions.
Then the Hoyas went cold and didn’t hit shots for more than five minutes. The Commodores whittled Georgetown’s lead to 29-26 on a basket by Ted Skuchas with 4:01 to go.
It wasn’t enough as Patrick Ewing Jr., who transferred from Indiana, hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 39-28. Vandy scored the final seven points and trailed 39-35 at halftime.