I felt a collective sigh of relief rush across all of Blue and Gray Land last night, after the Georgetown Hoyas played their most complete game of the season to beat the #5 Xavier Musketeers at their own game on the road. While few were betting on the Hoyas last night (10 point underdogs), something ignited Georgetown, players #1-9, to out-shoot and out-rebound the much heralded Xavier squad, and beat the defense that stifled the Hoyas in 4 of the past 5 games they played over the past two seasons.
While often coming close to taking down several highly ranked teams this season (Duke, Maryland and Villanova), just at the moment many were prepared to assign the Hoyas to the NIT, Georgetown played as a team and both veteran players and young talent gelled in a great effort against a Top 5 team. In particular, sophomore point guard Tre Campbell, entering the game with a 3.5 point per game average, scored a career-high 21 points, Hoya senior center Bradley Hayes returned as a presence (9 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 1 block and several alterations) and freshman center Jessie Govan (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) battled with the experienced Xavier big men. Sophomore Trey Mourning provided a few significant minutes, including a blocked shot, assist, rebound and free throw as JT3 used the entire team to seal this victory. Sophomore LJ Peak returned to form and added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Where Campbell left off in first half, DSR picked up in the second half, finishing with 20 points, 15 in the second half. The Hoya team finished with an impressive 51% shooting from the field 40% shooting from deep, led by red hot Campbell and DSR and 80% from the foul line (19-24). Significantly, total turnovers for the game were 11, down from recent losses.
Senior Bradley Hayes got the party started for the Hoyas, making his first three shots as the Hoyas and Musketeers stayed close. Hayes picked up his third foul with 8 minutes to go in the first half; then his teammates took over, especially Campell but also Jessie Govan, who showed again why he is and will be a special player for the Hoyas and beyond.
The Hoyas played with an energy and intensity for 40 minutes rarely seen this season, winning each half separately and holding onto the lead even after the Musketeers battled back to within 2, 51-49, at the 11-minute mark on a sophomore Trevon Bluiett 3 pointer. This was a key difference from prior Hoya efforts where the lead would slip from their grasp.
The Hoyas (now 12-7 and 5-2 in conference) held a 39-33 halftime behind Campbell’s hot shooting in the first half (17 points, including five 3-pointers, 5 for 7) and led by as many as 11 in the second half. The Musketeers, with its only loss this season to Villanova on 12/31, lost for the first time at home this season and now are 16-2, 4-2. The Hoyas currently are in sole possession of second place in the Big East, behind the Villanova Wildcats.
Bluiett led Xavier with 18 points, and junior guard Myles Davis added 15 points. Freshman standout Edmond Sumner returned from a concussion as Xavier’s starting freshman point guard and scored 10 points. The Musketeers shot a season-low 35.8 percent from the field. Also a problem for the X Men was the Hoyas control of the boards as Hoyas were led by Govan, Hayes and Cameron to outrebound Xavier 39-35. Xavier had led the Big East in rebounding and was in the top ten in the nation in rebounding edge. The Hoyas also held the Musketeers to 8 points below its season average of 80 points per game.
Prominent Player of the Game: Tre Campbell earned the Prominent Play Ball as the sophomore true point guard (and tonight, hot hand) led the Hoyas, hitting four 3-pointers in the final 6 minutes of the half, and finishing with a career-high 21 points, as the Hoyas pulled ahead 39-33 at the half. Campbell finished 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Prominent Play(s) of the Game: Of his total of 20 points, DSR hit consecutive three-point daggers in the second half after Xavier pulled within 2 at 51-49. One was from beyond NBA three-point range and on the second, I don’t think the net moved.
Honorable Mention: Trey Mourning’s Productive Two Minutes! Hope to see more of Trey at Storrs.
Interesting Fact: After the game the Hoyas moved to #72 in the RPI, just one notch above … Princeton.
So, as I wrote before the game, a few thoughts:
1. Get to the line. Check–24 times
2. Take care of the ball. Check–11 turnovers, much better
3. Hit the boards. Check–beat a strong rebounding team
4. Try something new offensively. Check–The Hoya offense moved better than I have seen all season.
Play it again, Hoyas, on Saturday at Storrs. The Season is not over; no, it may only be beginning. When starter Isaac Copeland’s offense returns (0 points in 24 minutes last night), who knows what this team may be capable of?
Skate on, Jack.