CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 25 points in the Hoyas’ Jan. 13 victory over DePaul. Smith-Rivera leads the Hoyas with 15.4 points per game.
CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA
Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 25 points in the Hoyas’ Jan. 13 victory over DePaul. Smith-Rivera leads the Hoyas with 15.4 points per game.

As we near the end of the regular season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (17-8, 9-5 Big East) is preparing to face DePaul (12-15, 6-8 Big East) in the first of its four remaining Big East conference games.

The Hoyas will host the Blue Demons at Verizon Center on Saturday night, then take to the road to challenge St. John’s (17-9, 6-7 Big East) and Butler (19-7, 9-4 Big East) before returning to Washington, D.C., for the season finale against Seton Hall (15-11, 5-9 Big East) on March 7.

While Butler, the only of the four remaining teams to have bested Georgetown this season, will be arguably the toughest matchup for Georgetown, the first hurdle is DePaul.

The Hoyas notched their first road win of the year over the Blue Demons in Chicago and are coming off a 79-57 win over St. John’s, which beat DePaul 86-78 a week earlier.

DePaul, meanwhile, is coming off a lose against Providence on Wednesday night.

The last time Georgetown squared off against DePaul, junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera dropped a scorching 25 points en route to the 78-72 win. The win sparked a four-game win streak, the Hoyas’ longest during conference play.

The Hoyas have several reasons to feel reassured going into Saturday night’s game, but after the their win on Tuesday night, Head Coach John Thompson III warned against overconfidence.

“We can’t get complacent,” Thompson said. “These guys have to understand we’re going to have some pretty hard practices here in the next couple of days.”

Nevertheless, when Georgetown beat DePaul on Jan. 13, it was a back-and-forth affair that wasn’t sealed until Smith-Rivera sank six free throws in the final 34 seconds. The lead changed four times and although Georgetown outshot DePaul 50 percent to 44 percent, the statistics for turnovers, assists and rebounds were balanced between the two teams.

“It was just about effort,” DePaul’s junior forward Myke Henry said after the loss, per DePaul Athletics. “They wanted it more than us. They were going after the 50-50 balls while we were standing around.”

So when the Blue Demons come to Washington, D.C., this weekend, they will look to avenge the loss.

Henry, who led DePaul with 17 points against Georgetown the last time the teams faced off, has continued to make his presence felt on the offensive end of the court, scoring in double digits in every game since the loss to Georgetown, with the exception of DePaul’s blowout defeat at the hands of Villanova.

Along with sophomore guard Billy Garrett Jr., who is averaging 13.3 points and whose father is the assistant coach for the Blue Demons, Henry leads the squad in scoring with 12.8 points per game. Both players have only improved as the season has progressed.

But as Thompson noted after Tuesday’s win, Georgetown has also made adjustments.

“I think a lot of it is our guys are — it takes time — but they’re starting to take pride and understand that attention to detail is important,” Thompson said. “So we’re better than we were, but we still have to keep the focus we’ve had lately and still keep trying to get better.”

Georgetown tips off against DePaul at 8 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*