Series: St. John's leads 54-47
Where/When: Verizon Center, 7 PM Tuesday
TV: Fox Sports 1
It's been a week since we last had the pleasure of watching Georgetown take the hardwood and as a result of a scheduling quirk; there are two narratives ready to take shape in the opening few minutes of tonight's rivalry game against St. John's. If the Hoyas jump out early and look crisp on offense as well as their switches defensively, the break will have done Georgetown well. Should the Hoyas get off to a slow start with one of their infamous scoring droughts right from the jump; the break will have killed that mojo earned up in Newark last week.
Let's go with that first option.
After going the first 24 games of the season without playing the Johnnies, Georgetown will now face Lavin's squad in two out of the next three games starting tonight. Oddly enough in both matchups the Hoyas will be coming off a week's rest.
Last time out coach John Thompson III made a change in the starting lineup for the first time this season that wasn't dictated by an injury. Freshman Isaac Copeland replaced senior Mikael Hopkins in what many people had been suggesting for a quite some time. The results were a quick start and strong finish with some not so great stuff in the middle. Copeland made the most of his second career start by finishing with 20 points.
Against a team such as St. John's - that plays a small lineup - this lineup change should pay dividends.
So what do we know about the Red Storm?
After dangerously teetering on the edge of self destruction it looks as though St. John's is making one final push to impress the selection committee. St. John's comes in hot with a three game winning streak - Creighton, DePaul, at Xavier. Prior to this recent good fortune, the Red Storm had lost seven out of ten. Without knowing the money situation up in Queens, it seems as though Coach Lavin would need to make the NCAA tournament to save his job. The Red Storm are currently on a three year hiatus from the Big Dance.
Red Storm lowdown: D'Angelo Harrison leads the team in scoring with just over 19 points per game. Harrison is one of four players averaging double figures for Lavin - Rysheed Jordan, Sir Dominic Pointer, and Phil Greene.
All four of those players average over 30 minutes a contest, so foul trouble is something St. John's can't really afford if they are looking to pull off the upset tonight.
With Chris Obepka struggling with injures recently, St. John's has gone small with success. For some reason most people still identify the Hoyas with wanting to play at a slower pace. Maybe that was true with Roy Hibbert and Co. but playing fast should work into the Hoyas favor so long as the turnovers don't pile up.
Last time out: St. John's beat Xavier on the road on Valentine's Day to win its third straight game. Pointer matched a career-high 24 points in a 78-70 win at the Cintas Center. As we unfortunately know all too well, winning there isn't easy.
RPI: After spending a decent amount of time in the 50's, St. John's is currently No. 42 in the latest RPI rankings. The Red Storm are 3-5 against the Top 50 so a win over the Hoyas would go a long way towards their at-large profile.
Now on to your Hoyas.
Matchups: Not as though many - if any - have an actual answer for Joshua Smith, but St. John's really doesn't have anybody that can guard him. Sure Chris Obepka is a shot blocking machine but he gives up about 120 lbs and he's only place 31 minutes this month due to an ankle injury.
Now tonight probably won't be a night where Smith goes for a career high in minutes but JT3 should be able to use Smith as a complete matchup nightmare at times to both score down low and create open shots on the perimeter.
Protect Verizon: After rattling off four straight BIG EAST home wins to start the conference slate, the Hoyas have lost their last two. Not many people saw this coming after that glorious 48 hour period in which the Hoyas took out Butler before dismantling Villanova.
As it stands now Georgetown is in great position for a 4-6 seed in the NCAA Tournament so long as they take care of business at home with three games remaining at the Verizon Center. It's been almost a month since students stormed the court making old people everywhere angry. While I wouldn't recommend a court storming tonight, a win would be a step in the right direction for March success.
Movin' on Up: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera recovered from his poor outing against Villanova to lead the Hoyas with 23 points against Seton Hall last time out. It was the sixth 20-point effort of the season for the junior and third in the Hoyas last four games.
Thanks to his recent form, DSR is poised to move up on two lists tonight against St. John's. With ten points he will pass former teammate Markel Starks ‘14 (1246) on the school's all-time scoring list. DSR currently sits at 27th place with 1237 points, tied with Joey Brown ‘94.
DSR can also move up the school's all-time 3-point list with a few makes tonight. Right now he's in 9th place with 155. With two makes he'd pass Mark Tillmon '90 for 8th place and with three he'd pass Ashanti Cook '06 for 7th.
Top Frosh: Isaac Copeland only has five more games to make his claim on BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award but after winning his second rookie of the week honor yesterday, it's still in play. Now in the starting lineup, Copeland will have a chance to make his impact on the game from the opening possession.
Copeland will try and be the first Hoya to win the award since Greg Monroe in 2009 and just the second under JT3 (Green, 2005).
Reason to be cynical: You saw that the student section is being encouraged to wear Gray, RED, white, and blue and you are worried that the Johnnies might feel at home. Look I love the promotions this season but wearing RED for a game against St. John's is a bit much.
Reason to be delusional: The games against D'Angelo Harrison St. John's teams have really been more about the Red Storm losing than the Hoyas winning. Lavin's crew will self destruct. Just wait for it.