Series: Hoyas lead 44-20
Where/When: Dunkin Donut Center, Saturday at Noon
TV: Fox Sports 1
Georgetown begins a two game road trip with a stop in Providence against the Friars on Saturday afternoon. The Hoyas have won back-to-back games after dropping their first and only road game of the season at Xavier on New Year's Eve.
With half the conference tied for second place at 2-1, both the Hoyas and the Friars will be looking to keep pace just behind DePaul. Wait, did I just write that last sentence?
Georgetown had won its previous three trips to the Dunkin Donuts Center before getting absolutely blasted last January in a game that sent the season into a major tailspin, especially with Jabril Trawick breaking his jaw towards the end in what seemed like an act of frustration. Also not coincidently it was the first game without Joshua Smith.
In losing that game by 18 points, the Friars turned 15 Georgetown turnovers into 20 points and held a 12-2 advantage in fastbreak points. The good news is that D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera played well by scoring 19 points from 10 field goals. I think we would all take that kind of production - especially the efficiency - from DSR right about now.
I'll get to this later but beating Providence on the road would be Georgetown's best win of the season so far. That's another sentence that felt weird to type.
So what do we know about the Friars? Well we know that only the ‘tough' Friars will play, especially in the second half. Coach Cooley went with an unconventional lineup the last time out in a hostile environment and it paid off handsomely.
Friars lowdown: Kris Dunn came in as a highly regarded player two seasons ago and he's finally living up to the billing after some unfortunate injury problems. He leads the BIG EAST in assists (7.3) and steals (2.6) but he also gives the ball away at a high rate - 4.4 turnovers per game.
In October DSR was the preseason BIG EAST player of the year but right now that honor would probably go to LaDonate Henton who averages a league leading 21.3 points per game. Henton has been a four year double digit scorer for the Friars but he's made a big leap this year in going from 14 a game to where he is now at over 20 per game. He's shooting numbers are about the same it's just that he's taking more shots which is what you need from your best player.
Freshmen Jalen Lindsey and Ben Bentil are the wildcards as they play about half the game and have shown the ability to make some 3-pointers.
Last time out: Providence picked up a rare BIG EAST road win on Tuesday night with a come from behind victory at Butler to improve to 2-1 in the league. Cooley made some second half adjustments that were apparently based on toughness. They worked.
RPI: There are currently seven teams in the BIG EAST with an RPI of 37 or better. Providence is one of them, checking in at 15.
Now on to your Georgetown Hoyas.
Three games into the conference schedule and it's still not easy to figure out this Hoyas team. We've seen enough from D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera to know that he still has the ability to put up big offensive numbers but the consistency just isn't there at basically the halfway point of the season.
Joshua Smith can be an absolute force or he can be riding the pine due to foul problems. One game Aaron Bowen is saving the day off the bench while the next game he struggles for more than a handful of minutes. The same can be said for others such as Isaac Copeland or Tre Campbell.
Good news out of the last win was that Mikael Hopkins is back in the scoring column. Hopkins is valuable on the defensive side of the court so he needs to contribute as a threat to score.
Big Wins: There are only two teams in the BIG EAST without a Top 50 win and unfortunately Georgetown is one of them. Beating Providence would go a long way towards team confidence as well as national respect. Even though it seems early, we are getting to the point where pundits start referencing big wins. With some luck Indiana and Florida can work their way into that category but right now they aren't really that close.
The good news is that the Hoyas haven't picked up a bad loss as all four of their losses are against Top 50 teams.
Go Zone: I'm not sure Georgetown has anybody that can guard Dunn one-on-one but that's ok. They struggled staying in front of Indiana's guards but a second half zone did the trick. Dunn doesn't shoot very well from three, so you can concede those shots. To be honest, Providence as a team doesn't typically hurt teams from deep.
Home Sick: Georgetown has now lost six straight road games dating back to last season. Historically Providence has been kind to the Hoyas, with Georgetown holding a 12-13 record in away games with the Friars since the BIG EAST first began.
Reason to be cynical: With no road or Top 50 wins under their belts to this point, it's still a wait and see situation.
Reason to be delusional: Providence didn't have to deal with Smith last year at home. That changes tomorrow and the result will be open looks for Hoya shooters and foul trouble for Friar bigs. Also the last time I saw Providence they were busy losing at home to Brown.
Final thoughts: I hate the Dunkin Donuts Center. I've been once and it was awful. I thought I was literally on the road with the Hoyas to the Final Four but instead they got their doors blown off by Ohio. In order to erase some of those memories I'd love it if they renamed the arena after a former Friar. If they can't come up with a name, I'd suggest John Thompson Jr.