Finding themselves in the cellar of the Big East standings, the Hoyas look to end their recent struggles Monday night at the Verizon Center against the St. John’s Red Storm (8-9, 2-2 Big East).
Despite the team’s Big East record, Georgetown (8-8, 0-4 Big East) has had chances to win every conference game. In their past three games, Georgetown has entered the final two minutes of regulation down by single digit points. The Hoyas’ inability to convert in crunch time — on both the offensive and defensive ends — has prevented the team from winning each of these three close games.
Against No. 18 Butler (14-2, 3-1 Big East) Georgetown inbounded the ball to junior guard L.J. Peak with six seconds left in a tie game. However, miscommunication between the Hoyas forced Peak to take a long, contested fadeaway shot that clanked off the rim. In overtime, the Bulldogs ran away from the Hoyas, winning 85-76.
A huge part of the Hoyas’ inability to win close games is their free throw shooting. Georgetown has yet to shoot above 70 percent on free throws in a Big East game this season. Freshman guard Jagan Mosely, who finished with a career-high 20 points against Butler, explained how the team must focus on free throws in order to see an improvement.
“It’s just our focus,” Mosely said in the postgame press conference. “Focusing in on free throws and just staying focused through the game. I don’t think it has to do with nerves, we just need to focus on the free throws more.”
The Hoyas must also tighten up their late game defense, as they allowed a wide open three by Butler to tie the game with 54 seconds left. Georgetown also struggled on the defensive end late in the second half against the Providence Friars (11-6, 1-3 Big East). After a game of trading baskets, the Hoyas gave up several uncontested threes and a couple of three-point plays to give the Friars a lead they would not surrender.
The Red Storm’s duo of freshman, guard Shamorie Ponds and redshirt freshman Marcus Lovett, who combine for an average of 35.9 points per game, lead the Red Storm’s offense. After a rough start to its season that featured a five game losing streak, St. John’s found its form in time for Big East play and handed Butler a 76-73 loss to open up their conference schedule.
The Hoyas have lacked consistency in their lineup recently. Graduate student guard and leading scorer Rodney Pryor finished with zero points on 0-of-8 shooting from the floor against Butler. Despite starting, sophomore center Jessie Govan only played eight minutes and recorded only two points and two rebounds, while senior center Brad Hayes contributed 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench.
Despite the start to conference play, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III remains confident that his team can dig themselves out of the hole.
“We just got to fight,” said regarding conference play. “We have to fight. It is as simple as that. There’s no magic dust that can be sprinkled, we just have to come and fight.”
Tipoff is set for 6:30 on Monday night at the Verizon Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
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