Tonight’s game features two programs in very different places.
St. John’s, losers of seven straight, could help spark a frustrated bunch with a much-needed home win. And Georgetown, winners of four of their last five, needs to continue racking up wins in an effort to regain national relevancy.
The Johnnies come in limping despite a hard-fought performance Saturday afternoon against Marquette. Chris Mullin is back inside the confines of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday with his Johnnies facing perhaps their most notable rival of all.
After a few head scratching nonconference losses to begin the season, Georgetown now sits at 3-1 in conference play and has a chance to put their early season struggles to bed.
The Hoyas are about to enter a brutal stretch of schedule, beginning with a visit from BIG EAST leading Villanova on Saturday, followed by trips to Xavier and former BIG EAST rival UConn as well.
All three games offer a chance to enhance a resume that certainly needs a boost.
But first, a win in New York is imperative.
How to watch, listen or stream
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan (Georgetown) || AM 570 The Mission (St. John’s)
Live Stream: FOX Sports GO (where available)
Spread: Georgetown opened as an 8-point favorite over St. John's via OddsShark. The line bumped up to 8.5 points.
Records ATS: Georgetown 8-6 || St. John’s 5-10-1
O/U: The o/u opened at 136.5 but popped up to 137.
Three things to watch
1. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera: When the senior guard opted to forego the NBA Draft and return to Georgetown for his senior season, the Hoyas seemed poised for a strong campaign. But Smith-Rivera’s season has mirrored Georgetown’s, marred by inconsistency. In a three-game stretch that included losses to Monmouth and UNC Asheville, followed by a narrow win at Charlotte, Smith-Rivera combined to shoot just 3-of-22 from the 3-point line, and compiled just seven assists against six turnovers.
But since the beginning of BIG EAST play, Smith-Rivera has connected on 8-of-19 shots from downtown, scored between 15 and 17 points in all four games, and has led the Hoyas to a 3-1 start. Despite the good start, his overall shooting numbers are not on par with the previous two seasons, but he seems to be finding a rhythm in the first few weeks of the conference season.
Georgetown certainly needs him to be a star these next few weeks, as a slew of make-or-break games are on the horizon. A solid effort in a road win would be a good start.
2. Can the Johnnies finish one?: St. John’s is getting closer, but at the end of the day W’s and L’s all count the same. In their most recent tilt, an 81-75 loss at Marquette, the Red Storm tied the game at 63 with just under five minutes to play, only to see Marquette go on a 10-2 run and close it out from there.
In the previous game, a 74-66 loss at home against Xavier, St. John’s was down 65-64 with approximately two minutes to play, but a technical foul and poor late-game execution once again buried the Red Storm.
In all likelihood, St. John’s won’t win many conference games this year, and understandably so given the state of its rebuilding effort. But a few wins in close, late-game situations will do well for program morale, and can provide a few of the younger players a blueprint for future success.
3. Jessie Govan: At the midway point of the season, it looks like freshman center Jesse Govan is starting to break out.
In the team’s first 13 games, Govan scored in double figures in just three of the contests, but has tallied 11, 17 and 12 points in his past three outings. During the three-game stretch, Govan is 5-of-5 from 3-point range, has blocked eight shots and pulled down 15 rebounds.
Coach John Thompson III rewarded Govan with a career-high 30 minutes in Georgetown’s most recent game, a 74-63 win against DePaul. The Hoyas already complement Smith-Rivera with two players who average double figures in Isaac Copeland (11.4 points per game) and L.J. Peak (10.3 points per game), and has received solid contributions from center Bradley Hayes. Adding Govan as a consistent offensive threat and shot blocker will help bolster and diversify the Georgetown attack, a potential key heading into an important stretch of their schedule.