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Rust, Not Rest: Georgetown Starts Slow, Loses at St. John's 81-70

Energetic Red Storm Run Past Hoyas.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown fell behind St. John's early Saturday and was never able to catch up, trailing by double digits for the bulk of the game before falling, 81-70.

Facing a veteran, emotional team on its senior day, Georgetown saw nearly everything that went right in these teams' match-up less than two weeks ago go wrong today. Instead of forcing turnovers that led to easy transition points, Georgetown committed the miscues, fueling the Red Storm's up-tempo offense. Instead of keeping the Red Storm in front of it, the Hoya defense allowed one open driving lane after another, opening up points in the paint and perimeter looks for St. John's. And instead of limiting the cheap fouls to maximize their depth and size advantage, the Hoyas lost Joshua Smith early and often to foul trouble.

St. John's got out to a quick start and never looked back, running at any opportunity tin an effort to score before the Georgetown defense got set. And the Hoyas willingly abetted the Red Storm's game plan, committing careless turnovers on unnecessarily difficult entry passes and hoisting up errant jumpers that also led to easy St. John's run-outs.

Curiously, the Red Storm's own foul trouble allowed it to capitalize on Georgetown's mistakes. Star guard D'Angelo Harrison hit the pine early after committing two fouls in the game's opening minute, and didn't reenter the game until the second half. Harrison has always been good for as many ill-advised isolations and contested two-pointers as he can get. His foul-induced exile redistributed those possessions to the far more efficient Phil Greene and Sir'Dominic Pointer. Each played well in these teams' first match-up and did so again on Saturday, with Greene stroking the ball from three and Pointer causing problems inside the arc as a quick, athletic, undersized big.

For its part, Georgetown found few offensive solutions. Smith played just 8 minutes, committing fouls that were at turns unfortunate and cheap. The depth that fueled the Hoyas' blowout of the Red Storm in D.C. also vanished. Isaac Copeland, fresh off his third Big East Rookie of the Week award, turned the ball over three times and connected on just 1 of 5 field goal attempts.  LJ Peak continued his late-season struggles, making just 1 of 9 shots and failing to affect the game in other ways. And Jabril Trawick's four-game double-figure scoring streak snapped as the senior guard could not connect from three and only intermittently able to get to the rim. Without Smith to distract the Red Storm's defense, the Hoya perimeter found perimeter looks and driving lanes fewer and narrower.

Still, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera tried his best to make it a game, tallying a game-high 29 points (many of which, it should be noted, came with the game basically decided). And Mikael Hopkins scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including an eye-popping 12 offensive boards. But no other Hoya consistently connecting and Red Storm finding easy offense in transition, Georgetown never seriously threatened to make it a game.

Georgetown entered the day tied for second place in the Big East, making Saturday's loss disappointing.  This defeat, combined with Butler's (easier) win at DePaul, make the odds a bit longer for the Hoyas' effort to grab a favorable Big East Tournament seed. But that seeding was just as much lost when Georgetown was swept by Providence as it was Saturday, when the Hoyas understandably dropped one to a team playing for an NCAA Tournament bid in its last home game.

We also should remember that Georgetown a big chance to change those probabilities Tuesday, when they travel to Indianapolis to face Butler. That game will be harder still, with another, better veteran team playing its last home game. To win, the Hoyas must avoid early foul trouble and double-digit deficits (which have been a particular problem in earlier games against Butler) and must get greater contributions from the entire rotation.