Georgetown-VCU Preview

The Associated Press

Georgetown has faced two different types of defenses in its first two games in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Now the Hoyas will take a look at a style they failed to solve in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Georgetown lost to Virginia Commonwealth on that occasion, and will meet the 10th-ranked Rams and their "havoc" defense in Sunday's fifth-place contest.

Both teams bounced back from humiliating opening-day defeats in this event. Georgetown (2-2) blew an 11-point halftime lead in Thursday's 63-56 loss to Northeastern while VCU (4-1) fell 85-67 that same day to Florida State.

The Hoyas cruised to a 90-63 rout of Kansas State on Friday. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 25 points to lead four starters in double figures as Georgetown shot a season-high 63.5 percent.

"We knew we had to be more aggressive, but it was two different games," center Joshua Smith said. "Northeastern played a 3-2 (zone defense), Kansas State is more of a man team, which plays to our advantage with what we want to run. We knew going in we'd have to be aggressive and that it'd be a lot of one-on-one coverage."

Now Smith and the Hoyas will have to face a Rams defense that ranks among the nation's leaders in forcing 20.2 turnovers per game thanks to the "havoc" defense employed by coach Shaka Smart.

Ironically, VCU forced a season-low 10 turnovers Friday in a 73-67 win over Long Beach State. Rob Brandenburg scored 19 points to lead four starters in double digits as the Rams used a critical 13-0 second-half run to take command.

''I thought we responded well,'' Smart said. ''(Thursday) was a humbling game. And that's a good thing. Losing not a good thing, but it's good to be humbled because it reminds you that you have a long way to go and we have to get better."

It's well documented how Georgetown has lost its opening game in the NCAA tournament three of the last four years. VCU eliminated the Hoyas in 2011, coasting to a 74-56 victory en route to the Final Four by forcing 17 turnovers and only committing six.

Hoyas point guard Markel Starks was a freshman then who logged 12 minutes off the bench without turning the ball over. He'll be the man in the spotlight as he faces the pressure of Briante Weber, who has a team-high 16 steals for VCU.

The Rams will want to speed up the tempo so that the Hoyas won't be able to get the ball to Smith in their halfcourt sets. The 6-foot-10, 350-pound Smith is bigger than anyone VCU has, and he scored 13 points in 15 minutes on 6-of-7 shooting Friday.

"When Josh Smith is in the game, we have an advantage in the paint," coach John Thompson III said. "He's someone that's going to command attention. He's an unselfish player, so when they double him, playing inside-out is something that we always want to do."

Georgetown will get its first look at Treveon Graham, who leads VCU with 15.0 points per game and attended high school in the Washington area.

The Hoyas have never beaten the Rams, losing 88-75 in the other meeting in the 1977-78.

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