Postgame Roundup: Hoyas take Musketeers down

Only 36 hours removed from their disheartening road loss Thursday night to Seton Hall, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (16-11, 7-8 Big East) regained their form Saturday at Verizon Center, as they cruised to a 74-52 blowout win over Xavier (18-9, 8-6 Big East). The win snaps the Hoyas’ two-game losing streak and avenges their earlier defeat this season to the Musketeers, who came back from a 17-point deficit en route to an 80-67 win on Jan. 15.

“It feels good because they beat us the first time and you’re able to get them back,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said following the game.

In their past two contests against St. John’s and Seton Hall, lackluster starts to the game doomed the Hoyas’ prospects for success. In an effort to reverse this alarming trend, Thompson inserted junior forward Jabril Trawick into the starting lineup to replace freshman forward Reggie Cameron. The tinkering surely paid dividends for the Blue and Gray, as they jumped out to a 42-26 halftime lead which they never looked back from. As a result, Thompson anticipates starting Trawick in the future.

“When [Jabril] is on the court, we are a better team. I liked bringing him off the bench because we were getting a fusion off the bench,” Thompson said. “But we were just getting too many slow starts. We risk not having as much coming off the bench, but it turned out okay today and we are probably going to stick with it.”

For the game, Trawick scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, dished out four assists, and brought tremendous defensive intensity. Since returning on February 1 from a broken jaw injury, Trawick has stepped up his play on both ends of the floor. His performance today marks the fourth consecutive game where he has scored in double figures. Whether he starts or not, Trawick maintain’s the same approach.

“I come out and play the same way every time,” Trawick said. “I knew that we needed to get off to a good start and I knew that coach put me back into the starting lineup to start the aggressiveness and start the game off strong, and that’s what we did.”

Along with Trawick, the Hoyas received significant contributions elsewhere as five other players scored at least seven points. Senior guard Markel Starks had a game-high 22 points, on 7-of-14 shooting, with four assists and only one turnover. Sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored nine points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had zero turnovers. Taking care of the basketball proved crucial, as the Hoyas had a season-low three turnovers, while the Musketeers struggled with the Hoyas’ press throughout the game. Georgetown took advantage, scoring 20 points off of 11 Xavier turnovers.

“I think we just took great care of the basketball today. I also think our attention to detail was there,” Starks said. “We’ve missed that at times through the year, but it was a joy to play today. If we can sustain that effort and level of competitiveness every day, then we are going to do big things.”

After disappointing the past few games, the Georgetown frontcourt unit provided much-needed production on both ends of the floor. Senior forward Nate Lubick scored nine points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, junior forward Mikael Hopkins added eight points, and senior forward Aaron Bowen contributed seven points. Senior center Moses Ayegba also produced four points and three rebounds, before a second-half ankle injury limited him to only 16 minutes.

“[The frontcourt] had constant effort and they were a presence on the defensive end – on the boards, blocking shots. If our frontcourt shows up, we usually play well as a group,” Thompson said.

The Hoyas’ defensive effort in the half court threw the Musketeers out of their comfort zone on offense, especially in the second half. After junior center Matt Stainbrook’s lay-up made cut Georgetown’s lead to 44-33 with 17:17 left in regulation, the Musketeers failed to convert a field goal attempt for 12 minutes and 36 seconds until freshman guard Brandon Randolph’s jumper with 4:41 remaining. Overall for the Musketeers, sophomore guard Semaj Christon led the way with 18 points, while junior forward Justin Martin and Stainbrook added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

“We were overwhelmed from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack said. “[Georgetown] outplayed us. They out-hustled us. They out-coached us. They were by far the superior team on the court today. It wasn’t even close.”

The Blue and Gray will look to build off this strong performance when they return to action this Thursday night, as they travel to face Marquette (15-11, 7-6 Big East) at 9:00p.m. The Hoyas will look to avenge their earlier overtime loss this season to the Golden Eagles, who defeated them 80-72 at Verizon Center on Jan. 20.

Photo: Joshua Raftis/Georgetown Voice

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