Junior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a team-high 13 points for the Hoyas in their second loss to Xavier this season.
Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a team-high 13 points for the Hoyas in their second loss to Xavier this season.

Something felt off. It might have been Verizon Center’s speaker system breaking down during pregame introductions. Or maybe it was the crowd’s late arrival. Whatever the reason, No. 21 Georgetown (14-6, 6-3 Big East) started as slow as it had all season on Tuesday night against Xavier (14-7, 5-4 Big East). The Hoyas fell into an early deficit that could not be recovered in spite of a late second-half effort, ultimately causing the Hoyas to fall by a final score of 66-53.

For Head Coach John Thompson III, it was not his players’ energy that was lacking — it was their execution.

“I don’t think we were lethargic out there,” Thompson said. “I just think we made mistakes.”

The night had a definitive feel of deja vu to it. For the second time this season, Georgetown had entered the national polls following a thrilling overtime victory in a marquee matchup and, for the second time this season, the Hoyas lost their first game as a ranked team to Xavier by double digits. If that were not painful enough for the team to stomach, Georgetown’s 53 points on Tuesday night matched a season low — set in their first loss to Xavier on New Years’ Eve.

“It was a bad loss. It was a tough loss,” Thompson said. “Every loss is a tough loss and a bad loss.”

Both teams had trouble finding their offensive groove out of the gate, combining to miss their first seven shots. 10 minutes into the first half, Xavier held an 11-8 lead.

Offensive consistency and limited turnovers were key to Georgetown’s recent success, but the Hoyas struggled with both in the first half. The team went without a point from the 11:17 to 5:21 mark of the period, allowing the Musketeers to stretch its lead from 11-8 to 23-9 during that span. By the time the half had finished with Xavier leading 29-16, Georgetown had tallied 12 turnovers, only four field goals and zero offensive rebounds. Senior guard Jabril Trawick led all Hoya scorers with four points in the period.

“We dug a hole for ourselves against a good team — every team in this league is a good team,” Thompson said. “The hole was just too deep to come out of.”

The deficit may have been large, but the Hoyas emerged from the locker room with an improved offense and at several times during the second half appeared on the verge of making things interesting. Xavier, however, seemed to have an answer for everything.

Freshman forward Isaac Copeland cut the lead to 10 with a three-pointer less than four minutes into the half, but Xavier senior center Matt Stainbrook converted a conventional three-point play on the next possession.

Senior center Joshua Smith made a layup to trim Xavier’s lead to 40-30 and bring Verizon Center to its feet with 12:50 remaining. The Musketeers called a timeout and then hit a three-pointer on the next possession.

With a little over five minutes remaining on the clock, Trawick nailed a three from the corner to cut the Musketeers’ lead to 10 points again with the score at 52-42, but Xavier got to the free throw line on its next possession, opening the lead back up to 12.

Georgetown finally seemed to get over the hump when a three-point play from Smith and subsequent bucket from junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera cut the lead to seven with 3:56 to play. However, that seven-point deficit was as close as the Hoyas would get. Once again the Musketeers clamped down, holding Georgetown scoreless for the next three minutes.

“Give [Xavier] credit,” Smith-Rivera said. “They really scouted us well … their defense was really good.”

Xavier guard Myles Davis carried his team with a game-high 19 points.

The loss put an end to a four game winning streak for Georgetown that had seen the team rise to first place in the Big East and back into the national rankings. After making 28-of-32 free throws in Saturday’s victory over Marquette, the Hoyas converted only 54 percent of such attempts Tuesday night. Copeland, who scored double-digit points in three consecutive games coming into Tuesday’s matchup, was quiet in his first career start, finishing with only five points in 26 minutes. Smith-Rivera, the leading scorer against Xavier and throughout this season, tallied 13 points with a 5-of-14 shooting record from field.

For Thompson however, the defeat was more of a temporary setback than a cause for serious concern.

“I don’t know how big picture to sum up today. We did not play well; they played very well,” he said. “We don’t have to go back to drawing board, we just need to be better.”

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