MEN'S BASKETBALL | Starks Leads Hoyas in Win Over Xavier
Published: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Updated: Saturday, February 22, 2014 15:02
When Georgetown and Xavier met Jan. 15 in Cincinnati, the Hoyas gave up a 17-point lead en route to their first loss of a five-game skid.
It was an altogether different story Saturday afternoon, however, as the Hoyas built a similar lead and never surrendered, defeating the Musketeers 74-52 before an announced crowd of 11,854 at Verizon Center.
“We were overwhelmed from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack said. “Give a lot of credit to Georgetown. They were by far the superior team on the court today. It wasn’t even close.”
Junior guard Jabril Trawick filled in for freshman forward Reggie Cameron in the starting lineup, a shift that seemed to deliver energy for the Hoyas from the get-go.
Powered by layups from Trawick and senior forward Nate Lubick, Georgetown raced to a 6-0 lead and never looked back.
“It has a huge impact. When he’s on the court, we are a better team,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “I like him coming off the bench because you get an infusion, but we had too many slow starts.”
Georgetown (16-11, 7-8 Big East) shot 56 percent in the first half — including 4-of-8 on three-point attempts — and excelled with ball distribution, notching eight assists against a single turnover.
Xavier (18-9, 8-6 Big East) could not find a rhythm against a renewed Georgetown press and was called for two 10-second violations in the first half.
“Georgetown’s contained press turned into more of a turnover type press,” Mack said. “We were never able to get into a half-court offense where we could get into the post.”
When Xavier freshman forward Jalen Reynolds was whistled for a technical foul with just over nine minutes to go in the half, Georgetown managed to get the separation that would last the rest of the game.
Senior guard Markel Starks hit a pair of free throws, senior center Moses Ayegba got a block on the other end, and Trawick scored on an easy layup and then hit a jumper after a Musketeers turnover. A dunk by senior forward Aaron Bowen sealed the 8-0 run.
“We did a very good job taking care of the basketball today,” Starks said. “It was a joy to play the game today. If we can sustain that effort, we can do big things.”
Foul trouble was a bigger concern for the Blue and Gray in the second half as junior forward Mikael Hopkins was limited to just six minutes after picking up his fourth foul with 15:05 left in the game.
Xavier could not get any traction, however, and a jam by Bowen with 12:29 left in the game gave the Hoyas a 19-point lead.
Georgetown made its free throws down the stretch — finishing 19-for-26 in the game — and avoided touch fouls, which have been costly in recent games.
Starks led all scorers with 22 points and had four assists with just one turnover — part of an effort that saw Georgetown notch 14 assists against just three turnovers. Xavier, on the other hand, had eight assists and 11 turnovers.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been part of a team that had just three turnovers,” Thompson said.
Trawick finished with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds, while Lubick and sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera posted nine points each.
Saturday’s win means the Hoyas will clinch a winning regular season, something Thompson has completed in each of his nine seasons at the Hilltop.
Although that will likely clinch a spot in the National Invitation Tournament, Georgetown has its work cut out for it to make the NCAA tournament.
It will have its next shot at enhancing its resume Thursday night at Marquette. The Golden Eagles beat the Hoyas 80-72 in overtime at Verizon Center on Jan. 20.
Tipoff against Marquette is set for 9 p.m. Eastern. The game will be carried on Fox Sports 1.