For the second straight game on Fox Sports 1, fans tuning into see a Georgetown basketball game were treated to something else. This time, it was the uniquely annoying sound of racecars zooming around a track. As it happened, a NASCAR practice ran over by thirty minutes and so most of the first half of the Xavier-Georgetown game was shunted off to Fox Sports 2, otherwise known as the Siberia of the Cable Dial. Actually, for most cable subscribers it’s more like Atlantis. But anyway, I know the Daytona 500 is tomorrow but still, to borrow a quote from former Hoya Allen Iverson, it’s PRACTICE. I mean, we’re talking about PRACTICE.
I am relatively optimistic about the new Big East, but it’s still a somewhat uncertain venture. It needs everything possible to go right. It doesn’t help matters when the league’s cable partner values the Big East basketball product lower than NASCAR practice. Not even qualifying. PRACTICE! To make matters worse, the rarely working online site Fox Sports GO also showed NASCAR practice on what it advertised as its game feed. I mean, does anybody at Fox care? I realize the Big East took significantly more money from Fox, knowing that would mean less audience exposure and a burial in the ESPN dominated sports media. That was a totally defensible decision, and I think under the circumstances it was probably even a good decision, but the Big East needs Fox to step up its game going forward.
Now, as Bob Knight once said, back to the game.
Georgetown dominated this game in just away every way a team can dominate a game. They got out to an early lead and Xavier never even remotely threatened. After two straight atrocious performances, this was a surprising development to say the least. Georgetown was particularly efficient on the offensive end, as those 74 points came in a very slow 54 possession game. The main factor helping the Hoya offense was avoiding turnovers. Georgetown had only three on the game, ensuring that virtually every possession ended with a shot at the bucket. They took ten more field goals and six more free throws than the Musketeers.
The Hoyas also were effective with those shots, hitting 56% from two point range and even putting up a rare effective 5 for 12 showing from beyond the arc. The seesaw performances from the two guards continued, as Markel Starks rediscovered his game (22 points, 7-14 FG, 6-7 FT) while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera struggled to a 1 for 8 showing from the field, though he did contribute by getting to the line to make 6 out of 8. Georgetown also got positive contributions from pretty much everyone that played, most notably Jabril Trawick (13 points, 5-8 FG, 2-4 3FG), who has continued to step up his offensive game since his return from a broken jaw.
Defensively, Georgetown played a pretty good game as well, which represented a huge improvement over the last four games. Semaj Christon was pretty much able to do whatever he wanted (18 points, 5-5 FG, 7-9 FT), but the Hoyas held everyone else in check. Outside of Matt Stainbrook (12 points, 4-8 FG, 4-4 FT) and Justin Martin (13 points, 4-10 FG, 3 turnovers) neither of whom were particularly efficient, no Musketeer scored more than three points. Dee Davis, who killed Georgetown in the first meeting, fouled out in this one having scored zero points.
The Hoyas also beat Xavier off the boards on both ends, neutralizing what appeared to be Xavier’s biggest advantage in the matchup.
The one note of concern in this game for the Hoyas should be the continued foul trouble up front. Mikael Hopkins fouled out in just 19 minutes. It was his third foul out in the past six games, and was doubly sad since Hopkins was actually not useless on offense in this game (8 points on 3-4 FG, only one moving screen). Nate Lubick also had four fouls in the game. The bright spot was Moses Ayegba, who managed a mere two fouls in 16 minutes, which is about half his normal rate. Xavier missed several easy looks inside, and the interior defense continues to look like the team’s biggest weakness.
It should also be noted that Trawick regained his starting spot from freshman Reggie Cameron, who only played the last minute of garbage time. It’s an overdue move, as Trawick is the team’s best defender and has become the team’s third best offensive player with his aggressive style of slashing to the hoop. Cameron is not yet a good defender and couldn’t create any offense, making him an odd fit given the current makeup of the Georgetown team.
Xavier is still on the right side of the cutline for the NCAA Tournament, if only barely, but this loss could potentially hurt them pretty badly. They will be underdogs in their final four games, and at only 8-6 could easily still fall below the line.
Georgetown gets back to 7-8 and back into the NCAA Tournament discussion, at least for the moment. Having won a must-win game today, they have another one on Thursday at Marquette, another Big East team desperately trying to sneak into the tournament. This is a winnable game, but Georgetown hasn’t beaten a team with a pulse in a true road game all season. If they can win that one and one of their final two over league powers Creighton and Villanova, then we’ll talk. Until then, at least this game solidified the team’s NIT status.
As a final note, any day featuring Jim Boeheim blowing his gasket is a good one.