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January 12, 2008

Hibbert lifts No. 7 Georgetown over UConn

Box score

WASHINGTON — Roy Hibbert knew it.

His Georgetown teammates and coach John Thompson III knew it.

Now Connecticut and the rest of the country knows it, too.

The big guy can shoot from outside. Way outside.

The 7-foot-2 Hibbert stepped back, squared up and swished a tiebreaking 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and less than 5 seconds left in the game Saturday, capping his 20-point, eight-rebound performance and lifting No. 7 Georgetown to a 72-69 victory over Connecticut.

"That's not a fluke. That's not a shocker. That's not a once-in-a-lifetime thing that Roy makes that shot," Thompson said. "If you leave him open - he has shown every day in practice and a few times this year - if you're not going to play him, he can make that shot."

Clearly, UConn did not anticipate having to worry about the senior center lofting a shot from behind the arc for only the second time in his college career.

No defender was within several feet as Hibbert collected a pass with time running out and moved back behind the line before letting fly.

"Very shocking," Connecticut's Stanley Robinson said.

"That's a tough shot to lose a game on," said associate head coach George Blaney, who filled in for an ill Jim Calhoun.

It also was a shot that decided a thrilling, back-and-forth game that UConn led 67-61 with about 4 1/2 minutes left after Jerome Dyson's fastbreak dunk. But the Huskies would not register another field goal, and consecutive 3-pointers by freshman Austin Freeman and Jessie Sapp allowed the Hoyas to tie.

The comeback gave Georgetown (13-1, 3-0 Big East) two consecutive victories over Connecticut (11-4, 2-2) for the first time since the Hoyas took six in a row from 1991-93.

"The most important thing is we stuck together," Hibbert said. "We could have folded right there, but we grinded it out."

He played a large part in that, of course, at both ends of the floor. Hibbert not only was the game's high scorer and rebounder, but he also energized his team with rare shows of emotion, including pounding his right fist on his chest.

He did that while standing at the foul line waiting to complete a three-point play, and again after keeping his shooting percentage on 3s while at Georgetown perfect: He is 2-for-2, with both taken this season.

"I put it up, and I felt confident about it," the preseason All-American said. "I'm a big man who stays inside. But if the opportunity's there, I'll take it."

During practices, Hibbert generally works on his post moves. Afterward, though, he will stick around to put in some extra time on outside shots, straying back to the free throw line and then the 3-point line.

"I've seen Roy shoot it before. So it's not like it's a big thing," said Patrick Ewing Jr., who contributed 14 points. "Just the fact that he had the confidence to pull it in a game and in the clutch shows his maturity and growth as a player."

Jeff Adrien led Connecticut with 18 points, A.J. Price scored 17 and Doug Wiggins had 15 - but only two after halftime. Dyson, UConn's leading scorer, got into foul trouble early in each half and was held to eight points.

Before the game, Hibbert and senior guard Jonathan Wallace were honored for reaching 1,000 career points. Until Saturday, only three of Hibbert's total had come from behind the arc, but he doubled that, just in the nick of time.

"Nobody's really seen me take 3s before," Hibbert said, talking about other teams, "so that's out of the norm for everybody else."

For more coverage of Georgetown, visit HoyaReport.com; for more on Connecticut, visit UConnReport.com.



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