This was another Fox Sports 1 Special, where the first 17 minutes of the game was lost to most viewers due to double overtime in St. John’s-Marquette, NASCAR practice (PRACTICE!?!?) on Fox Sports Siberia, err, 2, and technical problems and limited distribution with Fox Sports GO. In those 17 minutes, Villanova got ahead of Georgetown by 10 points and had essentially already put the Hoyas away by the time the game reached television. The Wildcats did what they have been doing all year, beating up a team not named Creighton with an impressive all-around performance.
The key statistic in this game, and the one that almost singlehandedly explained the differential, was Georgetown’s 18 turnovers, compared to 9 for Villanova.
George from Hoosiers may have been an obnoxious ignoramus when it comes to basketball, but he wasn’t completely clueless. In particular, he had a point when he shouted, "you can’t score if you don’t shoot." This is true. When they did shoot, the Hoyas were actually very successful. They shot 42.9% from long range compared to 46.7% for Villanova, and shot 53.8% from inside the arc compared to 52.6% for Villanova.
However, Georgetown’s offense resembled Hickory’s first game under Norman Dale, with endless passes that were eventually deflected, than anything effective. Thanks to the turnovers, Villanova took 13 more field goal attempts than Georgetown. At the rate they were shooting, that amounts to about 15 more points, accounting for most of the final difference.
Markel Starks was the worst offender, with five turnovers, while Aaron Bowen and Mikael Hopkins had three each.
The rest of the gap was accounted for by fouls. Georgetown went back to its hacktastic ways in this one, and paid dearly for it. While the teams each committed 23 fouls, Villanova got 28 free throws out of it compared to 22 for Georgetown. While Villanova shot miserably from the free throw line, they still hit 16 compared to 13 for the Hoyas.
The fouls also cost Georgetown heavily in the personnel department. Jabril Trawick picked up three fouls in the first six minutes of the game. Markel Starks also picked up three fouls in the first half. These developments forced the Hoyas to turn to John Caprio, who shatters the stereotype of unathletic white guys with his complete inability to shoot, and Stephen Domingo, a shooting specialist who can’t hit a barn, in the first half. Neither guy would be useful in a Saturday morning rec league at the Y, let alone on Senior Day at Villanova.
Hopkins also fell victim to foul trouble, fouling out in 18 minutes. In those 18 minutes, Hopkins missed two shots and turned it over three times. It was yet another miserable performance for Hopkins, whose inability to competently man the middle has been a huge problem for the Hoyas for two years now. Nate Lubick was similarly overmatched in this game, leaving the Hoyas weak inside.
I mentioned in the preview for this game that Villanova is so effective because they don’t have a weak link. Everybody on the team is useful on offense. Villanova had five guys score in double figures: Darrun Hilliard (19 points, 7-11 FG), JayVaughn Pinkston (13 points, 5-6 FG), James Bell (11 points, 3-7 FG, 3-4 FT), Ryan Arcidiacono (11 points, 4-9 FG, 3-4 3FG), and Kris Jenkins (10 points, 3-5 FG, 3-5 FT). All but Arcidiacono, who had four turnovers, were highly efficient on offense.
For Georgetown, Starks was effective when he wasn’t turning it over, finishing with 20 points on 6-12 field goals and 6-6 free throws. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was good but not as good as the limited Hoyas need him to be, with 14 points on 5-11 from the field. Bowen chipped in with 13 points on 5-7 from the field, but much of his effectiveness was blunted with his three turnovers.
The real takeaway from this game is that Villanova is a much better team than Georgetown. No surprise there. The Wildcats looked like national title contenders in this game, and I believe they are. Their only real weakness is that they are vulnerable to giving up the three ball, which is the main reason that Creighton has beaten them so badly in their meetings.
Georgetown completes its regular season as it has been all year, a bastion of mediocrity and maddening inconsistency. A best guess estimate at this point would be that Georgetown needs to get to the semifinals, and quite possibly the finals, of the Big East Tournament, in order to have a shot at an at large NCAA Tournament berth. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, they finished seventh and will have to play DePaul in the First Round on Wednesday night. This is the sort of game that has absolutely no upside for Georgetown. While the Hoyas should beat DePaul, one cannot count on anything from this year’s squad. Until they can win that game there is no point at looking beyond it.