It doesn't get much better than playing basketball inside the confines of Madison Square Garden. But as first-year head coach and former St. John's star Chris Mullin found out Tuesday night, not all confines are friendly.
Locked in were the Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday night, bringing their A-game with them on the drive up I-95 to The World's Most Famous Arena. And suffice it to say, the Hoyas made life hell for the Red Storm from end to end. Shots were made with relative ease, and the Red Storm couldn't buy a bucket of their own or get through Georgetown's defense, which was not much of the weakness it has proven to be a few times this season.
In the end, another tally would be marked down in the loss column for the Johnnies, as Georgetown levied the boomstick, winning 93-73 to move to 11-6 and 4-1 in BIG EAST play on the season.
Senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera set a new career-high in points inside hallowed MSG Wednesday night. DSR was on fire, scoring 33 points, eclipsing the 29 he scored last year vs. St. John's and vs. the Indiana Hoosiers as well. He'll have a few more opportunities to break that mark in March at the BIG EAST Tournament, but if it stands, it was one hell of a way to make an impact in The Big Apple.
The 31 points scored by the Indianapolis native was also a season-high, as he brushed past the 30 scored against Maryland Eastern Shore on December 1.
Three things we learned from this matchup:
1. Georgetown will still go as far as DSR takes them
He was not without help on Wednesday night in New York City. Junior forward and Hackensack, New Jersey native Reggie Cameron made his hometown across the Hudson happy with a 15-point outing as his streak of good play continued. Sophomore point guard Tre Campbell added 12 points and looked brilliant from an efficiency standpoint, drilling 4-of-6 field goal opportunities. Freshman center Jessie Govan was 9-of-10 from the free throw line, but DSR's 33 point, 68.75 percent shooting night was the highlight, and his effort helped largely in keeping Georgetown's foot on the gas the whole way. He may not need to get his Clark Kent on every night, but DSR's Superman for the Hoyas, and he'll be looked upon to have nights relative to this the rest of the way.
2. Effective FG% loomed large in this one
Efficiency will take you to good places and Wednesday night, it brought Georgetown into the win column. Utilizing eFG%, Georgetown shot 61.1 percent against the Johnnies. By comparison, the Red Storm shot just 45.4 percent. It wasn't much of a shot attempt difference, as both Georgetown and St. John's had the same amount of field goal attempts (54). It was quite simply that the Hoyas were hitting their shots, especially those from deep, converting on over 41 percent of them, and St. John's wasn't. Sometimes, that's all it takes.
3. Off nights from Mussini, Johnson, and Alibegovic plagued the Johnnies
One reason why St. John's couldn't keep pace with red-hot DSR and the Hoyas? Two of their top shooters weren't converting much at all. Freshman guard Federico Mussini and sophomore forward Amar Alibegovic may have both gotten into double figures with 11 and 12 points respectively. But the efficiency just wasn't there. Mussini and Alibegovic teamed up to shoot just 7-for-20 from the field, a skittish mark of 35 percent from the field. Durand Johnson furthered the damage as well, as he could not pick up from where he left off in Milwaukee over the weekend. The Pitt transfer shot 3-for-9 from the field and while he shot 2-for-4 from the perimeter, it was not enough to stay punch-for-punch with mighty Georgetown on Wednesday night.