We Are Georgetown: Home sweet home

For the first time in two weeks, as well as this semester, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-5, 3-2 Big East) returns to Verizon Center on Saturday to face Seton Hall (10-7, 1-3 Big East) at 12:00 p.m. The Hoyas will look to rebound from their disappointing 80-67 loss to Xavier this past Wednesday night, in which they surrendered a 17-point second-half lead and allowed the Musketeers to finish the game on a 16-0 run.

“We had the bear in the cage and but couldn’t close the cage door,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “[We] have to bounce back. [We] have another tough opponent right in front of [us]. It’s conference play so [we] have to grow, [we] have to learn… but [we] can’t be stuck.”

For the fourth consecutive game, junior center Joshua Smith will be not be available to play due to an ongoing academic issue. Smith, however, is still practicing with the team, according to Thompson. He also asserted that junior guard Jabil Trawick remains out indefinitely with a broken jaw. Trawick will miss his third straight game as a result of the injury.

Georgetown has had mixed results so far in terms of filling their absences. Because of Trawick’s absence, freshman forward Reggie Cameron and senior forward Aaron Bowen have taken advantage of their increased minutes. Against Xavier, Cameron scored a career-high 13 points, off 5-of-10 shooting, in 27 minutes played. Bowen added nine points, shooting 4-of-5 from the field, in 19 minutes played.

On the other hand, the Hoyas’ frontcourt has struggled, especially with scoring and foul trouble. Senior forward Nate Lubick, senior center Moses Ayegba, and junior forward Mikael Hopkins have all been plagued by foul trouble in the past two games and have only scored a combined 22 points in their past two contests.

“They have to play better. They have to give us more,” said Thompson.” It’s a big adjustment when you have to play without Josh… We have to get a lot more out of the guys we have.”

Georgetown senior guard Markel Starks and sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera have continued their stellar play, scoring 19 and 18 points respectively against Xavier. Starks also tallied seven assists and five rebound. Both have been heavily relied upon by Thompson, as they both played 40 minutes against Xavier. Yet in spite of their strong play and the inconsistent play of the rest of the team, Smith-Rivera still has full confidence in his teammates.

“I know in crucial situations we’ll be called on, where Markel and I have to score the ball,” said Smith-Rivera. “But we have guys on our team who can score as well, but we just got to them in rhythm, get them looks at the basket, and get them shots that they’re comfortable with.”

Despite their middling record, Seton Hall should not be overlooked. The Pirates have a penchant for close games, as five of their seven losses were by five points or less. In Big East play, the Pirates have defeated Providence, who blew out the Hoyas by 18 points, in double overtime while losing convincingly to No. 6 Villanova and No. 20 Creighton. In their most recent game against Marquette, they rallied back from a 14-point halftime deficit but fell short, ultimately 67-66.

Sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs leads the Pirates in scoring, averaging 15.6 per game. In the the post, the Hoyas will have their hands full with senior center Eugene Teague, a dominating presence underneath. Listed at 6’9” and 250 pounds, Teague almost averages a double-double, 10.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Senior forward Brian Oliver, a stretch forward shooting 45 percent from three-point range, is second in scoring, averaging 12.8 per game. Senior guard Fuquan Edwin, a defensive stalwart, averages 11.8 points and a whopping 3.1 steals per game.

Lubick sees the Seton Hall game and the upcoming four-game stretch, where the Hoyas play three games at home, as an opportunity for him and his teammates to reassert their dominance at Verizon Center and jumpstart the rest of their season.

“We got to be able to protect our homecourt. That’s what good teams do,” said Lubick. “The students are back here in session and we’re excited to be back.”

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