Game Preview: Xavier vs. Georgetown

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams enter at 3-1 in Big East.

Teams: Xavier (13-4) vs. Georgetown (11-4)

Day: Wednesday, Jan. 15

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Cintas Center; Cincinnati, OH.

TV: FOX Sports 1

Four Factors


Factor

Xavier

Georgetown

Effective FG%

52.4

53.5

Turnover%

18.7

19.6

Off. Rebounding%

35.2

32.0

FTA/FGA

44.0

48.7

Xavier fans will get to see D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera play in the Cintas Center after all. The Indianapolis native committed to Xavier in October 2010, only to decommit two months later before ultimately deciding on attending Georgetown. Wednesday’s match-up between Georgetown and Xavier in Cincinnati will feature a terrific guard matchup as Smith-Rivera squares off against Semaj Christon, who replaced Smith-Rivera as the combo guard in Chris Mack’s 2012 freshman class.

The match-up will showcase Xavier’s high-powered offense, which ranks second in efficiency during Big East games thus far, against Georgetown’s defense, which leads the conference in efficiency. If there is a weakness in the Hoyas defense, it is their inability to keep opponents off the free throw line. On average, Georgetown opponents shoot more than half (54.2 percent) the amount of free throws attempts as field goal attempts; the national average is 41.0%. As a result, opponents have scored 30% of their points against the Hoyas from the free throw line, the seventh most allowed by a division one team.

Xavier has struggled from the free throw line in their four losses this season, shooting 56.25%, including a miserable 3-10 in a November loss to Southern California. However, in four Big East games, the Musketeers have converted on 75% of their attempts, best in the conference. Hoya center Joshua Smith did not travel with the team to Cincinnati. The 350-pound Smith has been one of the Hoyas in foul trouble the most, averaging 7.2 fouls per 40 minutes.

In Smith’s absence, John Thompson III inserted 6-7 225-pound freshman Reggie Cameron into the starting line-up against Butler last Saturday. Cameron played a career high 32 minutes in the overtime win, and will likely be a player Xavier attacks in Wednesday’s contest, as Matt Stainbrook and Isaiah Philmore hold a weight and experience advantage.

The match-up of the game, however, is the battle between Smith-Rivera and Christon, with each wanting to prove they made the correct college decision. After averaging 8.9 points on a 25-7 Hoya squad last season, Smith-Rivera has upped his scoring average to 17.3 on an efficient 48.5% shooting. Christon, who won the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year award last season, has elevated his game this year. Maturing as a decision maker, Christon has trimmed his turnovers from 3.6 as a freshman to 2.1 this season, including a five game stretch in which he only committed one. The Cincinnati native is averaging 16.2 points per game in 2013-14 and coming off 27 and 28-point games in the Musketeers’ last two contests.

The Hoyas come to Cincinnati banged up; in addition to Joshua Smith’s academic troubles, Jabril Trawick is out with a broken jaw. Xavier’s best game plan would be pounding the ball inside, where Philmore and Stainbrook can draw fouls on the shallow Georgetown frontcourt. The Hoyas excel in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to 27.5% from behind the arc. If Philmore and Stainbrook demand double teams, open 3-point looks will stretch the defense and give Xavier a good chance to continue to defend its home floor. This Georgetown team would normally be a good matchup for Xavier, but the absences of Trawick and Smith will hurt the Hoyas in this road test.

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