Georgetown turned in its ugliest performance of the season Tuesday, committing 17 turnovers and bricking nearly 50 percent from the free-throw line en route to this season's second one-sided, double-digit loss to Xavier. The Musketeers once again kept the Hoya offense in check inside while Georgetown was able to generate precious little from the perimeter. The Hoyas fell behind early and far, recovering too little and too late to make this game competitive.
Any statistic you pick could describe Georgetown's first-half offensive misery. The Hoyas scored on just 1 of their first 7 possessions and 2 of their first 12, clawing their way to just 6 points in the first 8 minutes. And they hadn't yet reached the nadir, as Georgetown proceeded to go scoreless for more than 5 minutes and without a field goal for the better part of the first half. By the time the Hoyas came up for air, they were down by 17 points and the late-arriving home crowd was effectively silenced. Georgetown managed just 16 first-half points and entered the break down 13, where the deficit remained, more or less, for most of the game.
There were a number of reasons Xavier was able to shut down Georgetown yet again. The Musketeer bigs, Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds, are big enough to single-team Hoya big man Joshua Smith (10 points, 5 rebounds) and to keep him in check on the boards. The other Xavier defenders played a relatively conservative scheme, getting back quickly on defense, packing the paint, and jamming Hoya cutters. On Georgetown's rare trips into the lane, Hoya ball-handlers saw two and sometimes three Xavier jerseys, leading to travels, errant passes, and sloppy ball-handling.
Georgetown also wasn't able to extend the defense, hitting just 6 of 22 three-pointers and failing to otherwise bend the defense with penetration. Hoya star D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 13 points but connected on just 5 of 14 field goals and 2 of 7 from deep, exemplifying Georgetown's struggles, while the four Hoya freshmen connected on just 3 of 13 attempts from deep. With no real threat to cover on the perimeter, Xavier was free to pack things in ever tighter.
The Hoyas cobbled together consecutive baskets here and there as the game wore on, but never got closer than the 7-point deficit that they faced with barely 3 minutes to play. Even that glimmer of hope was snuffed out as Georgetown went scoreless of four straight critical possessions, including a missed one-and-one that added to a tally of 11 missed free throws on the evening, and the Musketeers scored six straight points to put the game away.
Tuesday's loss was a worse replay of the New Year's Eve disaster in Cincinnati, raising the question of whether Xavier has exposed a fatal flaw in Georgetown or merely poses a bad match-up for the Hoyas. The answer, probably, is a bit of both. Smith poses an overwhelming offensive advantage against most opponents, even in conference play. That is not the case against Xavier, which boasts a sizable front line that can play behind Smith and otherwise clog the lane. The rare defense that does not need to double-team or front Smith can afford to stay home on the other Hoyas, waiting to swallow up Georgetown cutters and ball-handlers who wander into the lane. After a series of undersized opposing front lines, Georgetown was jarred to meet a foe its own size, and couldn't generate enough other offense off the bounce or from distance to put pressure on the Musketeeer defense. Xavier also has managed to exploit Georgetown's defensive weaknesses, particularly in transition and on the perimeter, where one Musketeer guard after another found a driving lane that led to a pair of Xavier's 32 free throws.
After four straight wins, three of which were hard-fought and emotional, an off night should be expected, if not exactly understood. Georgetown will have to wait a few days before seeking to right the ship Saturday, at Creighton. But the Hoyas must shake off this difficult loss before hitting the road.