MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Return Home Needing Win
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 00:01
After being drubbed on the road by Providence and Xavier, Georgetown (11-5, 3-2 Big East) will return to the friendly confines of Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon, needing to eke out a victory against Seton Hall to stay above .500 in conference play.
The Hoyas sandwiched in a victory over the Bulldogs in their three-game road swing but have been without two key players: junior forward Jabril Trawick, who broke his jaw at Providence,and junior center Josh Smith, who has been sidelined with an academic issue.
While Trawick and Smith are out indefinitely — although indications seem to point to Smith’s return sooner rather than later — the Hoyas have turned increasingly to their guards, especially sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
The Indianapolis native paced Georgetown in all three road contests, scoring 19 points against Providence and 18 against both Butler and Xavier.
Senior guard Markel Starks remains the team’s key cog. As both a ball distributor and rebounder, Starks had 19 points, five boards and seven assists against the Musketeers and seemed to will the Hoyas to a sizeable lead over the Musketeers until Georgetown wilted late in the second half.
Playing a consistent 40 minutes of basketball has been a struggle for the Blue and Gray in league play so far: Even its lopsided victory over St. John’s included some lackluster defense in the second half.
The Hoyas dramatically stepped up their three-point shooting against Xavier, going 10-for-18 from beyond the arc after shooting a combined 6-for-27 in their previous two contests. Given the team’s reliance on its outside game, Smith-Rivera and Starks — as well as freshman forward Reggie Cameron — will need to demonstrate similar consistency going forward.
Saturday’s opponent, Seton Hall (10-7, 1-3 Big East), finds itself in the middle of a three-game losing streak. After beating Providence in double overtime Dec. 31, the Seton Hall has dropped games to Creighton and then-No. 8 Villanova at home and to Marquette on the road.
Seton Hall is led by sophomore guard and Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs, who averages 15.6 points per game. Senior wings Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin are potent threats from beyond the arc as well and average 12.8 and 11.8 points a game, respectively.
Edwin suffered a knee injury in December, and his play has been inconsistent since, although he scored seven points in Seton Hall’s 67-66 loss at Marquette last Saturday.
Like the Hoyas, the Pirates are a bit shortchanged in the post. Senior center Eugene Teague remains sidelined after suffering a concussion late last year, and junior forward Patrik Auda was badly outplayed both on the boards and in the paint by Marquette in Seton Hall’s last game.
With so many question marks on both sides, Saturday’s game may be something of a defensive battle — especially around the basket. If Georgetown can avoid foul trouble — which has plagued senior forward Nate Lubick and redshirt junior forward Moses Ayegba this season — it could be a critical advantage.
Tipoff against the Pirates is set for noon Saturday at Verizon Center. The game will also be carried on Fox Sports 1.