Though the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-14, 7-8 Big East) trailed by just two points at halftime in Saturday’s home game against No. 8 Xavier (24-3, 12-3 Big East), Xavier outscored Georgetown 53-37 in the second half, leading to an 88-70 loss. The Hoyas did not put up much of a fight to try and mount a comeback, allowing the Musketeers to increase their lead and keep it for the entire second half.
Xavier was led by freshman guard Edmond Sumner, who poured in a game-high 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting while also handing out three assists and grabbing two rebounds.
“He was very hard to defend. … He got to the rim whenever he wanted. He’s very fast, very, very, very fast. It takes more than a single person to slow him down,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said of Sumner.
The Hoyas didn’t have an answer for Sumner or any of the other Musketeer guards, as the Musketeers’ four-guard lineup put a lot of stress on the Georgetown defense. Xavier sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting.
Xavier could have earned a larger lead by the end of the game if the team had shot the ball better in the first half, shooting just 11-of-30 — 36.7 percent — from the field and going 1-of-11 — 9.1 percent — from three-point range. Xavier finished the game at just 17.6 percent from three, while Georgetown shot an astounding 37 three-pointers, making just 10 of them for a 27 percent mark.
Georgetown started strong by working the ball around on offense and making quality shot attempts, which enabled it to get out to a 12-8 lead early on after a jumper from freshman forward Marcus Derrickson, who finished with just two points and three rebounds.
However, that hot offensive start quickly sizzled out as the Hoyas started taking too many outside shots once the Musketeers started clogging up the lanes and adding pressure.
“We worked really hard on taking all the action that Georgetown runs and filter[ing] it so that our players could understand as best they could without smoke coming out of their ears. … We were really locked in with all the details that Georgetown presents from an offensive standpoint,” Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack said.
Xavier would seize the lead for good with 12:23 left in the first half after a jumper from sophomore guard J.P. Macura. The lanky 6-foot-5 guard finished with 12 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals — a thorn in Georgetown’s side throughout the afternoon.
Xavier seized control of the game midway through the first half thanks to a couple of untimely turnovers from Georgetown, which finished with 12 turnovers for the game and led to 18 points for Xavier. Macura stole the ball from sophomore forward Isaac Copeland and tipped in a missed layup to make it 25-16 Xavier, and then a turnover by sophomore guard L.J. Peak led to two Sumner free throws to make it an 11-point game.
Georgetown tried to get back into the game late in the first half. Two free throws from Copeland, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds, cut the Xavier lead to one, and then senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera knocked down a three to tie it up at 33 with 1:18 left in the half. At halftime, the Hoyas trailed by just two points at 35-33 and were well within striking distance of the Musketeers,
Once the Hoyas came out of the locker room, it was a completely different story. Xavier went on a 13-0 run to begin the half. Thompson took a timeout just 1:32 into the half after Sumner drove baseline and was fouled by freshman center Jessie Govan while making the layup for the and-one opportunity.
“The last time [we played Xavier] we played hard for 40 minutes, and we came out flat to start the second half today across the board and they took advantage of it. I think that was the main key and the biggest difference,” Copeland said of Georgetown’s performance in the second half.
In addition to the lack of energy on the court in the beginning of the second half, Smith-Rivera was critical of the team’s communication.
“I felt like some of it was transition — just getting back — and communication and losing guys that are capable of making those shots. The communication was not where it should be,” Smith-Rivera said.
Junior forward Reggie Cameron, who started the second half, became a liability for the Hoyas, missing three three-pointers during the 13-0 run for Xavier and committing a turnover. Thompson kept Cameron in for five minutes, during which Cameron had a stat line of 0-of-3 field goals, one turnover and one rebound. As a team, in the second half the Hoyas had four turnovers and shot 12-of-33 from the field, including 22 three-point attempts, due in part to the Musketeers’ pressure on defense
“We wanted to pressure a little more and speed them up because Georgetown does a great job at slowing down,” Sumner said.
Xavier’s lead stretched to 18 on a layup from Bluiett, and the closest Georgetown would get after that play would be 14 points with 1:15 left, showing no desire to try and make a legitimate run to make the game competitive again.
“They shot almost 80 percent in the second half, and when someone shoots that well against you — and it’s not like they were bombing away — you have to go back and evaluate and re-evaluate every aspect of your defense,” Thompson said.
With the loss, the Hoyas drop to .500 on the year at 14-14 and are looking at the possibility of being excluded not only from the NCAA tournament, but from the National Invitational Tournament as well. With three games left at home against Butler (18-9, 7-8 Big East) and on the road at Marquette (17-10, 6-8 Big East) and No. 1 Villanova (24-3, 13-1 Big East), fans question whether Georgetown can finish with a winning record this season and see any part of the postseason.
The Hoyas will host the Butler Bulldogs for their final home game of the season this Saturday at Verizon Center. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m., and the game will be televised on CBS.
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