Faltering on the road in one of the worst offensive performances of the Hoyas’ season, Georgetown now looks to return to form as the team hosts the No. 17 Xavier Musketeers tomorrow morning.
The Blue and Gray (8-5, 0-1 Big East) must once again face their kryptonite. Xavier (11-2, 1-0 Big East) has defeated Georgetown four out of the five times the schools have played since the 2014-15 season and returns much of the same team from those past two years.
Junior guards Trevon Blueitt and J.P Macura lead the charge for the Musketeers, posing as threats from deep with a combined 57 three-pointers this season.
Blueitt leads the team in both usage rate and percentage of minutes played, per KenPom.com, serving as the primary option on an offense that is still missing senior guard Miles Davis — who is sitting out indefinitely due to a criminal charge involving his girlfriend.
Georgetown hopes to have junior guard L.J. Peak play at full strength after playing limited minutes during the second half against the Golden Eagles (10-3, 1-0 Big East). Peak finished the game with only four points — well under the 16.8 points per game average Peak sported heading into the game.
“He’s an honest player. L.J. will be on his deathbed before he says ‘Hey Coach I can’t go’,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said of Peak’s toughness. “But when he finally said ‘Coach I can’t [play]’ that was alarming because he doesn’t do that. So we got to watch. He says he’s fine, he feels fine, the medical staff says he’s much improved so we’ll see.”
Graduate student guard Pryor, however, has remained steady and looks to remedy the problems Xavier has posed to the Hoyas in recent battles. On the season, Pryor is 18th in the country in true shooting percentage with .700 and averages a team-high 20.1 points per game.
The Robert Morris transfer is shooting an efficient 50-percent-plus from both two-point and three-point range, and Xavier’s defense, especially without Davis, has been porous against long-range threats.
The Musketeers are 109th in the country in three-point percentage defense while the Hoyas rank 22nd in three-point percentage offense.
Inside the paint, however, is another story, and the Hoyas must contend with sophomore point guard Edmond Sumner. Last season, the then-freshman excelled at dribble-drives, initiating the offense and breaking down the Georgetown defense.
This time around, Sumner has improved all facets of his game and is shooting 55 percent from inside the arc, to go along with an augmented passing game that sees him assist on about 27-percent of Xavier basket when he is on the court.
Sumner’s finishing at the rim is not the only efficient inside attack as his 61.8 percent conversation rate joins Blueitt, junior center Sean O’Mara and senior center RaShid Gaston as Musketeers with an above .600 shooting percentage at the basket.
Moreover, Gaston possesses deft abilities in rebounding, the biggest weakness for the Hoyas this season. While the Blue and Gray scrap just 34.7 percent of defensive rebounds — 322nd in the country per KenPom.com — the Musketeer forward is 10th in the country at cleaning the offensive glass, grabbing about 17 percent of all offensive rebounds when he is on the court.
As a team, Xavier is also the eighth-best defensive rebounding team in the country, potentially preventing Georgetown from any second-chance points.
The Hoyas must move the ball and hit their open shots, a failing in their loss to the Golden Eagles, in order to eke out a win on New Year’s Eve. A healthy Peak would provide more offensive productivity for the Hoyas to better match the high scoring Musketeers. Peak himself believes he is healthy enough to play his normal amount of minutes.
Tipoff is set for 11a.m., and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
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