This game was over before it even got on television. Literally. While Fox Sports 1 showed the end of Creighton’s beatdown of Villanova, followed by a leisurely post-game interview with Doug McDermott, St. John’s raced out to a 15-0 lead over Georgetown behind hot shooting and several bad Hoya turnovers. That was pretty much the game.
Georgetown’s defense, which had been suspect in the last two wins, completely collapsed in this game. St. John’s generally gets a lot of shots by not turning it over and doing well on the offensive boards, but doesn’t shoot that well. In this game, they put in a scintillating shooting performance which turned their offense into an efficient machine. While the Red Storm put up a solid 6 for 14 performance from downtown, they were especially deadly inside the arc where they shot 63.6%. This wasn’t an instance of St. John’s hitting miracle shots either. They shot well, but they got good looks.
In my game preview, I mentioned the importance of Georgetown’s big men staying in the game. It didn’t happen. Mikael Hopkins picked up two fouls very early and was limited to ten minutes with foul trouble. He played extremely poorly while he was in there, even by his usual low standards, scoring zero points on 0 of 3 shooting, with four fouls and four turnovers. Backup center Moses Ayegba continued his season long hack festival by committing four fouls in just 13 minutes, bringing his season total to an eye popping 64 fouls in 298 minutes. Thus, Georgetown spent most of the game forced into a small lineup and struggled to defend the basket inside and on the boards.
The Red Storm back court also just simply outplayed Georgetown’s guards. D’Angelo Harrison made up for three years of poor performances against Georgetown by going for 24 points on 7-15 FG and 8-8 FT. Freshman guard Rysheed Jordan also torched the Hoyas for 24 points on 8-11 FG and 5-6 FT, most of it by slicing to the bucket.
While D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera did okay for the Hoyas offensively (15 points, 6-11 FG), Markel Starks came up with a poor performance (13 points, 4-14 FG). Despite good offensive performances from Jabril Trawick (13 points, 3-7 FG, 6-7 FT) and Aaron Bowen (9 points, 4-5 FG), the already offensively challenged Hoyas could not survive an off night from Starks with their defense so porous.
Georgetown did manage to get the lead down to eight midway through the second half, thanks in large part to several nice plays by Trawick. However, he fouled out with ten minutes left after picking up a technical in a minor kerfuffle after taking an elbow from Chris Obekpa. This questionable officiating hurt the Hoyas badly, and Georgetown almost immediately fell apart after that and was quickly finished.
For old time’s sake, the Hoyas hurt themselves by committing 14 turnovers and 27 fouls.
St. John’s continues to play excellent basketball, with its seven win in eight tries. The Red Storm will be solid favorites in three of their final five games and are a better than even chance to finish Big East play with a winning record. Their NCAA chances look quite good at this point.
This was a devastating loss for Georgetown in every respect. The loss moves them back at least a notch back on a crowded bubble, and perhaps more importantly, their poor performance does not inspire confidence for the rest of the season. The Hoyas are a weak favorite in only one of their final five games (at home against Xavier), and they look to be a long shot bet at this point to even finish at 9-9. This also makes them the leading contender to be the seventh seed and thus have to play a First Round game at the Big East Tournament.
To add a cherry to the disastrous weekend, Michigan St. took a bad home loss to Nebraska, taking some of the shine off of Georgetown’s calling card victory. To add two more blows, Kansas St. and VCU, i.e. Georgetown’s other good non-conference victories, also lost.
This was a disastrous weekend for Georgetown, and there is no spinning out of that. All the Hoyas can do at this point is try to pick up one win at a time. This starts Thursday with what is now absolutely a must-win, and winnable, game at Seton Hall.