BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP)—Patient and plodding, No. 5 Georgetown let Alabama hang in there for 36 minutes. Then, the Hoyas took control.
DaJuan Summers had 18 points and nine rebounds and Georgetown went on a 14-1 run late to beat Alabama 70-60 in the first game of the SEC/Big East Invitational on Wednesday night.
“This team is learning that we can slowly, methodically pull away if we stick with our stuff,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “We can wear people down in the last few minutes of the game.”
It worked perfectly against a young Alabama team.
The Hoyas (6-0) took over after the Crimson Tide (4-3) briefly took the lead in the final minutes, giving up only a free throw in the final four minutes before allowing a basket in the closing seconds.
Georgetown turned up the heat against an Alabama team relying heavily on freshmen, forcing bad passes and tough shots and calmly making baskets at the other end. Thompson liked how his team responded in a tight situation.
“We were able to execute at both ends of the floor,” he said. “We didn’t get nervous and frantic at crunch time. They took the lead, and we just calmed each other down and went about our business.”
Roy Hibbert added 14 points, nine boards and four blocked shots for the Hoyas. He was 8-of-12 from the free-throw line as the smaller Tide mostly denied the 7-foot-2 center the ball or fouled him when he got it around the basket.
“They were just trying to be physical on me,” Hibbert said. “They kept fresh bodies on me every five or 10 minutes. I just had to stay composed.”
Jessie Sapp added 12 points and Alabama native Jonathan Wallace scored 11 for the Hoyas.
Georgetown, which trailed at the half for the first time this season, at 35-33, is off to a 6-0 start for the first time since winning its opening 10 games of the 2003-04 season. This one didn’t come as easily as most of the others, though, despite a commanding 45-29 rebounding advantage.
“They’re a big, strong, physical team,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. “What happens so many times is you’re concentrating on keeping (Hibbert) from getting rebounds and scoring. There’s so many ways he kind of affects what you’re doing down there.”
Richard Hendrix, the nation’s No. 3 rebounder, led Alabama with 17 points and nine boards. Mykal Riley scored 15 points and made four of seven 3-pointers. The rest of the team combined to make just 10 of 34 shots.
Georgetown held the Tide to 33 percent shooting in the second half.
Summers, meanwhile, matched his season-high in rebounds. That pleased Thompson as much as his scoring.
“He’s going to score a lot of points during his career here,” the coach said. “It’s the other things that he’s starting to take more pride in. Rebounding is one of those. He got nine, and that’s progress.”
Riley hit three 3-pointers in a five-minute span. His third gave the Tide a 57-56 lead with 4:01 left, Alabama’s first edge since the opening seconds of the second half. He had scored all nine points in overtime and made a key 3 in the final seconds of regulation in Saturday night’s win over Southeastern Louisiana, but couldn’t fuel another fast finish.
Georgetown took over from there.
Summers and Sapp hit 3-pointers—the latter off a nice dish from Hibbert— to start the 14-1 run for the Hoyas, who hadn’t led by more than four points in the first 37 minutes.
“It’s difficult to swallow when you play so hard against a team on a big stage, and you know a win can mean so much,” Hendrix said. “You play well for 36 minutes, and then at the end you don’t, that’s a tough pill to swallow. We just have to get better.”