Game 20: No. 21 Georgetown Hoyas (14-5, 6-2) vs Xavier Musketeers (13-7, 4-4)
Series: Musketeers lead 6-3
Where/When: Verizon Center, Tuesday 7 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Fresh off a high scoring overtime win away from the friendly confines of the Verizon Center, Georgetown entered the national rankings Monday afternoon with a game against Xavier next up on the horizon.
Sound familiar? Well it should as the only other time the Hoyas had a little number next to their name on the bottom scroll they went up to Cincinnati only to have one of the worst New Year's Eves anybody has had in recent memory.
Now while the scenario is similar, much has changed in a little less than a month.
All of a sudden freshman Isaac Copeland is an unstoppable force while Mikael Hopkins has channeled his inner Jonathan Wallace from the free throw line. And, oh, we also learned that Tre Campbell has ice water running through his veins should Coach John Thompson III require his services.
Right now Xavier is the only team in the conference with a winning all-time mark against the Hoyas. As the flagship program of the BIG EAST and Fox Sports 1, this is something that needs to start going in the other direction starting Tuesday night.
So what do we know about the Musketeers?
For as good as Xavier is at home in the conference, they are equally as poor on the road. Georgetown found that out last year with each team splitting a pair of blowout wins.
Musketeers lowdown: Jaylen Reynolds killed the Hoyas last time out. He scored 17 points - a little more than double his average - and when he wasn't getting the look he wanted from the field, he found a way to get to the line.
Surprisingly enough Matt Stainbrook wasn't a huge factor offensively as Georgetown held Xavier below its season average but Xavier did work from deep in going 6-of-12. The one thing the part-time uber driver did well was draw Smith away from the basket.
The Hoyas also did a good job of controlling freshman Trevon Bluiett, who was held without a field goal for the first time in his young college career.
Xaiver did a great job of turning the Hoyas over disrupting Georgetown's offense. The Musketeers held the Hoyas to just a season low six assists in running away late.
Last time out: As one would expect, Xavier had little trouble in taking care of DePaul at home over the weekend.
RPI: Xavier still has a solid RPI of 34 but they are desperately searching for a quality road win. While the Musketeers are 3-3 vs the Top 50, they have three losses outside the Top 100 (Auburn, Utep, & DePaul).
Now on to your Georgetown Hoyas. Let's take a look at some of the key factors heading into Tuesday's game against Xavier.
Healthy Hoyas: Depth. It's a beautiful thing. Never was that more clear than over the weekend when JT3 basically had to coach most of the game without the services of two starters in Jabril Trawick (thigh) and L.J. Peak (ankle). Last season a similar situation would have been a death sentence but times have changed.
As of Monday afternoon the status of both players was still uncertain, which is exactly what you would expect since it had only been about 48 hours since they last played. While the emergence of both Copeland and Campbell off the bench is great, the Hoyas can't go very long with Trawick and Peak. Let's hope that at least one of them is healthy enough to lace them up on Tuesday night.
Same Starters: JT3 has rolled out the same starters in the first 19 games but that might come to an end against Xavier with the aforementioned injuries. The good news is that at some point during the season, Aaron Bowen, Paul White, Copeland, and Campbell have started the second half.
180: Has anybody ever had a complete turnaround from the free throw line like Mikael Hopkins? We all knew that he wasn't nearly as bad as his 0-for-6 performance against Providence but to turn around and go 11-of-12 a few weeks later? Get out of town. What an incredible job by Mikael to correct a bit of form and likely improve his concentration from the line. It's what you would hope to get from a senior toward the end of his career. Mikael can be less of a defense-only player with a reliable shot from the line.
MVP Smith: Has any player ever won BIG EAST Player of the Year without winning the weekly award? Probably not but Joshua Smith is making a really strong case to get in the mix. Smith has improved his defense, rebounding, and free throw shooting during the season. Smith was able to get 10 points last time out against Xavier but he had four turnovers to just one assist and he failed to get the line. Smith needs to make his presence known this time around in order for the Hoyas to continue their winning ways. Smith is the most unique and, in spurts, he can be the most dominant player in the league.
Reason to be cynical: You are probably worried that Xavier is ‘due' on the road. Don't worry. They aren't. Chris Mack's whining only works at home it seems.
Reason to be delusional: Joshua Smith just made the BIG EAST honor roll, Isaac Copeland is the reigning Rookie of the Week, and the Hoyas have their longest conference winning streak since Otto and the Miracles reeled off 11 in a row a few years ago.