I want to start off by saying I hope it's clear that the final score of this game in no way represented the play on the court.
For most of the game last night the Hoyas were the better team, but for a number of reasons Georgetown was unable to close the deal on a signature road victory. The Hoyas fell prey to untimely mistakes, some general bad luck, and a failure to take advantage of what was working earlier in the game. The refs didn't help, but were not any worse than you would expect being on the road so I don't blame the loss on them despite their imbalance. No, it was the poorly-timed mistakes (DSR's missed front end of a one-and-one particularly comes to mind) and unlucky balances that undid the Hoyas.
Of course, the biggest cause of the Hoyas loss was the inability to get a basket in the final 6 minutes of the game. Some of the scoring drought can be attributed to good shots that didn't fall (Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins missed a few bunnies), some of it was poor shot selection, and some of it was fouls that went uncalled, but at the end of the day the Hoyas can't end a game like that and hope to win. The good news is though that the Hoyas outplayed Xavier on its court for 2/3rds of the game.
It is encouraging that despite being with out 2 of their normal starters in Joshua Smith and Jabril Trawick, the Hoyas were the better team yesterday . Xavier is one of the top Big East teams along with Creighton, Villanova, and Georgetown and this game clearly indicates to me that the Hoyas are an NCAA team. Picking Big East wins and losses at this point, we're only one game behind from what one would have expected coming into the season.
There was a lot of positive play in this Xavier game. The guard play of Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was phenomenal and the Hoyas three point shooting returned to what we expected all season. DSR continued his hot shooting, Markel broke out of his slump and returned to his Junior year form, and Reggie Cameron showed the stroke we all knew he had. Each knocked down three three pointers on no more than 6 attempts. Some outsiders will say our three point shooting in this game was a fluke or unexpected, but rather I say this how I expected us to shoot all year. Obviously not exactly 55.6% like we shot in this game, but some where just shy of 40% on the year.
Reggie Cameron's play was especially positive, scoring a career high 13 points and he helped to spread the court and open up the offense. While Markel Starks' 19 points were impressive, his 7 assists were even more impressive. The Hoyas in general did a fantastic job of running the offense and making great passes. Nate Lubick also chipped in 4 assists include a few beauties. Mikael Hopkins kept up his great shot-blocking pace, swatting 4 Musketeer shots including one particularly fearsome block. Aaron Bowen continued his positive contributions, knocking down a 3 and driving into the lane. He chipped in 9 points and 4 rebounds.
The Hoyas were not expected to win this game, but should have. Georgetown will be favored in at least 9 of the remaining 14 games and I expect them to win at least 11 of the remaining 14 games. This team just needs to win 7-8 more games in order to make the tournament. The Bubble will be as weak as ever and a 10-8 BE record would get us in. I don't expect it to come to that, but the Hoyas are really not in danger of missing the Tournament at all. Jabril and most likely Joshua will be back before the end of the season and we showed with our play yesterday that even if they were not to come back, the Hoyas can compete with the best of the best in the Big East.