Xavier grabbed an early 12-9 lead at the first media timeout hitting five consecutive shots. Going into the timeout, Quentin Goodin scored on back-to-back possessions: A 3-pointer and a nifty fadeaway bank shot. The two teams traded baskets into the under-12 timeout with Xavier still in the lead, 19-17.
The pace of this game ramped up quickly and the Hoyas took the lead taking advantage of a 2:10 Xavier scoring drought at the under-8 minute timeout. Xavier and Georgetown continued to be neck and neck but by the under-4 minute timeout, the Musketeers took the lead back from the Hoyas, with a one-point lead.
Play was halted abruptly due to a game clock malfunction but the action picked up right back to where it left off with the two teams trading baskets. In the first half alone, the lead switched hands nine times.
Trevon Bluiett caught fire in the closing minutes of the half collecting 16 first-half points while converting four of five 3-pointers. He ended the half in emphatic fashion drilling a buzzer beater 3-point shot to give the Musketeers a 46-44 lead going into the locker room.
Both teams were fairly efficient on the offensive side of the ball. The Musketeers shot 53 percent from the floor overall and 47 percent from long range. The Hoyas shot 49 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc.
Georgetown had a huge advantage in the points in the paint category with half of its first-half points coming from close range. Jessie Govan played a huge role in that cause dominating the paint while dropping 17 points in the first half of the game.
This game was still a tightly contested battle by the first media timeout of the second half as the Musketeers still controlled a two-point advantage. Much of the same persisted going into the under-12 minute timeout at the 11:29 mark as Xavier hung onto the lead by a thread. Despite a Jahvon Blair three-pointer, Georgetown was still down by one point.
The Hoyas, however, regained a one-point lead back with 7:11 left to go in the game. The boisterous Cintas crowd urged the Musketeers on as they swiped the lead back at the 4:18 mark.
This game went down to the wire. The Hoyas had a three-point lead that was whittled down to two after Sean O’Mara hit the front end of a pair of free throws with just about a minute and a half left to play.
Then, Trevon Bluiett summoned the clutch gene in his veins as he knocked down a three-point jumper and got fouled in the process. After making the and-one free throw, the Musketeers tied the game up at 86 apiece.
“We were down four and we just wanted to go down and run a play that was going to open me up for a three,” Bluiett said about the shot. “I didn’t really expect him to jump and foul me but once I shot it, it felt good.”
If this game couldn’t get any more exciting, it went to overtime. As the score suggested, the stats between the two teams in regulation were nearly identical. The Hoyas were 48 percent from the floor and the Musketeers were 47 percent from the floor. Both teams also had mirroring bench points with the Hoyas slightly edging out the Musketeers in that category with 28 points to Xavier’s 27.
In just the first two minutes of overtime, both Govan and Paul Scruggs fouled out. Xavier jumped ahead to one of its largest leads in a long time, a four-point lead but Marcus Derrickson nailed a three to cut the Xavier lead to just one. The Musketeers were ahead 92-91 with 43.5 seconds to left in overtime.
Two free throws made by Goodin brought the Xavier lead back up to three and Georgetown had the ball with 26 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Jamarko Pickett threw up an airball and the Musketeers only job was to milk the clock.
They did just that and came away with a hard-earned win while keeping the undefeated season on their home Cintas Center court alive. Final score, 96-91 Xavier.
“It was a tough game. It was exhausting,” Mack described after the game. “Our team was able to function down the stretch and get good shots for one another, play deeper in the shot clock and execute...That helps us as we get closer to the end of February and early March.”
Bluiett: 31 points, 4 rebounds
Jones: 15 points, 6 rebounds
Goodin: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Govan: 23 points, 9 rebounds
Pickett: 21 points, 9 rebounds
Derrickson: 19 points, 15 rebounds
Blair: 19 points
For those who weren’t tuned into this one, it was a wild game. In total, the score was tied 20 times and the lead changed 21 times, just to put it in perspective. Despite the constant changing of the lead, the Musketeers controlled the lead for 20:54.
In the overtime period, there was only one field goal made in the entire five minutes. In addition, three players fouled out: Kaleb Johnson and Jessie Govan for Georgetown and Paul Scruggs for Xavier.
Both teams also had four players on their respective sides score in double-digits. The one stat that really stood out was points in the paint. Georgetown had 38 points in the paint while Xavier had 22.
Trevon Bluiett continued to do Trevon Bluiett things. He not only hit two clutch shots but also put together a stat line stuffer. Tonight, he notched his season-high in points and is one step closer to chasing down David West for second all-time on the Xavier scoring list. Tonight marked Bluiett’s second-highest showing in the points column in his Xavier career.
Chris Mack values team basketball and that sure showed today. It took a true team effort to take down a Hoyas squad that perhaps didn’t have the strongest of out of conference schedules but has captured a few victories in Big East play. This was just another example of how tough a conference the Big East is. Perhaps St. John’s proved just that today when they knocked off No. 4 Duke at Madison Square Garden.
Two themes have been most apparent throughout this entire season. They are senior leadership and team basketball. Both were on the forefront tonight.
The vibe surrounding this Xavier team is reminiscent of the 2015-16 season when the Musketeers were upset by Wisconsin in the second round of the tournament. For now, Xavier seems to have hit its stride and is preparing for that last-month-of-the-season grind before they play for all the marbles.