While the season has turned south, what Georgetown has done over the course of conference play is admirable. After widespread attrition hit earlier in the season, the Hoyas have been relegated to just six scholarship players for several games. Once stars Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven were ruled out of Sunday’s game just before tip, it appeared that Xavier might cruise to an easy victory. Despite leading throughout almost the entire game, it took a Naji Marshall three in the final seconds for Xavier to escape Capital One Arena with a 66-63 victory over Georgetown.
After a slow start for both teams, a 13-0 run by the Musketeers gave them a 16-5 lead just over eight minutes into the game, a lead that would be their largest of the contest. Xavier led throughout the remainder of the first half, taking a 28-22 lead into the break. While quick five-point Hoya run out of the break cut the Musketeers lead to one, Xavier would counter and had a lead of between three and nine points for much of the rest of the game. Jahvon Blair eventually tied the game at 61 on a three with 1:10 left, leading to a late flurry in which a couple of Naji Marshall free throws were canceled out by a Timothy Ighoefe layup with 17 seconds to go. Marshall hit the winning bucket on a step-back three with 4.5 seconds left, though Terrell Allen had a good look to tie the game at the buzzer after Xavier elected not to foul up by three.
Marshall’s game-winning shot was the latest in a string of brazen and questionable late-game threes that have seemingly all fallen for the 31.9% three-point shooter. The first was a deep three to tie the Missouri game at 51 with 26 seconds remaining. Xavier wound up winning 63-58 in OT. In the Charleston Classic a week later, Marshall once again hit a deep three with 21 seconds left to tie that game at 56. While Marshall missed another deep three that would’ve won the game in the closing seconds of the first OT, Xavier wound up prevailing 75-74 in double OT. While Xavier wound up losing to Marquette in double OT on Jan. 29, it was another deep Marshall three that tied it at 61 with two seconds left in regulation. While his shot selection has been questionable at times, the Musketeers would be on the wrong side of the bubble without these Marshall’s heroics this season.
In a turnover-marred performance, Marshall and Tyrique Jones were the stars for Xavier. Marshall had 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists to counteract his seven turnovers. Jones picked up his 20th double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds, adding four steals on the defensive end. No other Musketeer had more than eight points. Xavier had 23 turnovers during the game and only made 24 field goals, winning on an 8-23 (39.1%) performance from deep along with dominating the glass by out-rebounding Georgetown 41-30. In a shocking development, three-point shooting has been pivotal in Xavier’s last two wins as the Musketeers have combined to go 21-48 (43.8%) in those two games.
Blair, Jamorko Pickett, and Jagan Mosely wound up playing nearly the entire game for the Hoyas due to the aforementioned personnel issues. Blair played thirty minutes and scored 18 points. Pickett picked up 12 points in 35 minutes while Mosely played all 40 minutes scoring 11 points and dishing out seven assists. All three, along with Allen, played all 20 minutes in the second half after the foul trouble that plagued them in the first half mostly dissipated. While the aforementioned trio dealt with foul trouble, walk-ons Jaden Robinson and George Muresan provided 12 minutes combined, each contributing a bucket. Like Xavier, Georgetown recorded only one more field goal (21) than turnover (20) yet nearly pulled out an improbable win.
At 15-14 (5-11), Georgetown is likely too far off of the bubble to get an at-large bid, though it will have opportunities to pick up major wins when it finishes the season traveling to No. 10 Creighton and hosting No. 12 Villanova. The game against the Blue Jays tips off Wednesday at 8 p.m. (EST) and will be broadcast on FSN/MASN2.
With the win, Xavier moves more firmly into the Tournament picture by moving to 18-10 (8-8) on the season. The Musketeers will finish the season by traveling to Providence and hosting Butler. While a win in one will likely make Xavier a virtual lock for bracketology purposes, Xavier will likely need to beat Butler in order to avoid playing Wednesday night in the Big East Tournament. The game against the surging Friars (winners of four-straight) will take place Wednesday at 6:30 and will be televised on FS1.