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Game Preview: Charlotte 49ers at Georgetown Hoyas

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Game 10:  Georgetown Hoyas (6-3) vs Charlotte 49ers (6-4)

Series:  49ers lead 1-0

Where/When:  Verizon Center, Saturday at noon

TV:  Fox Sports Regional (MASN2 in the DC area)

Between the 2013 Puerto Rico Shootout and the BB&T Classic from just a few weeks ago, Georgetown and Charlotte have been in the same building on more than a few occasions recently.  But for the first time since their only other matchup in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, the Hoyas and 49ers will square off on Saturday in the last game for each team until after Christmas.

So what do we know about the 49ers?

Well, they somehow won the Puerto Rico Shootout last year - picking up a couple nice wins in the process - before ultimately having a disappointing season that ended in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.  Most of the players are back from last season and as a result they have already picked up a couple nice wins in defeating Penn State and South Carolina.

49ers lowdown: The first thing that sticks out to me when I went over some of the stats -  I haven't watched the Niners since last season - is that they have a freshman sharpshooter from Gastonia, NC (home of one Sleepy Floyd) by the name of Keyshawn Woods.  Woods is hitting over 60 percent from deep, with 19 makes already.  Must be nice to find a knockdown shooter.

Aside from that, Charlotte has four guys averaging double-figures with Braxton Ogbueze leading the way at just over 13 points per game.

Mike Thorne, Jr. is a handful down low almost averaging a double-double with season highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds.  At 270 lbs he will be one of the bigger players to go up against Joshua Smith this season.

Last time out: Charlotte used a second half comeback in defeating Appalachian State 75-65 on Thursday night to win their second straight game and move two games above .500.  Ogbueze hit on 3-of-4 3-pointers while Torin Dorn led the way with 14 points.

RPI: Despite wins over Kansas State and Michigan last season, Charlotte finished with an RPI of just 151.  The better teams in CUSA still end up with solid RPI's so this could be a game that really matters at the end of the season.  Four teams have RPI's of less than 100 in 2014, including Southern Miss checking in at 29.

Now on to your Georgetown Hoyas.

Full disclosure in that I wasn't able to make the pre game media availability so I don't have a feel for what the players or JT3 said although I'm sure it's online by now.  There are a lot of positives for the Hoyas up to this point.  Smith is playing just about as well as anybody could have hoped.  The freshmen are coming into their own, Hopkins is playing at high level defensively, and if you turn away for a second you might miss Aaron Bowen dunking on just about anybody.

Ok so let's get to three issues real quick before tomorrow's clash with UNCC.

DSR: We now have enough data to correlate his uncharacteristically poor shooting thru nine games - especially from deep - to the fact that he has the ball in his hands more this season than in his first two seasons.  It seems as though letting Tre Campbell learn under fire isn't going to be the plan so we will have to see if JT3 can get the ball in the hands of Jabril Trawick or Paul White more than normal to free up DSR.  Right now Smith-Rivera is 11-of-40 from 3-point range, with almost half of those makes (five) coming against Wisconsin.

So it seems like there are two options, get the ball out of his hands a bit OR hope that he heats up as season goes on.  Like most situations, it's probably going to be a combination of both that solves the problem.

Protecting the 3: Charlotte has the capability of going off from deep thanks to Woods and Ogbueze.  The Hoyas have done a pretty good job outside of the tough loss to Kansas in limiting opponents from deep.  Wisconsin shot 37.5 percent from deep although some of those shots were very timely.

Against both Kansas and Wisconsin it seemed like there were some missed assignments/rotations.  This will be a good test for Georgetown as all of the cupcakes on the schedule have been eaten at this point.

Free Throw Shooting: With all of the off time after exams and the fact that most of the students are gone from campus, hopefully there was an emphasis on free throw practice.  What's unusual is that right now the seniors seem to be the biggest culprits.  Smith and Mikael Hopkins both missed huge front ends against Kansas while Trawick seems to be rushing his attempts.  Poor free throw shooting doesn't magically go away during a season but it can improve and it can obviously be the difference in close games.

Reason to be cynical: School's out and the players might be wondering when they will see their families over the Holidays.  Because of this they will be half in and half out of this game allowing Charlotte to hang around until the bitter end.

Reason to be delusional: Georgetown is going to go on a run this season.  Did it start against Radford?  Probably.

Final thoughts: Growing up, I didn't know that Georgetown could lose a first round NCAA Tournament game until Charlotte came along and ruined Victor Page and the Miracles in 1997.  I'd really like some payback for that one.  Let's avenge the final NCAA Tournament appearance of Big John.