Georgetown did what it needed to do Saturday, beating Seton Hall 73-67 on an emotional Senior Day. In his final home game, Jabril Trawick led the Hoyas with a career-high 19 points, while freshman Tre Campbell again stepped up, pouring in 13 points. The win pushed Georgetown to 12-6 in the Big East, a mark that, combined with Butler's win over Providence, slots the Hoyas as the second seed in next week's Big East Tournament.
Trawick's and Campbell's strong play was encouraging and at least partly attributable to the absence of Georgetown's star, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. DSR was in a suit Saturday because of a sore knee that JT3 said after the game should not cause him to miss any more games.
While those two guards led the offense for Georgetown, the scoring was opened in heart-warming fashion by senior Tyler Adams. Adams was playing just his fifth career game, having been sidelined by a heart condition just after his freshman season began. The big man was brought out of medical retirement thanks to an NCAA waiver (itself the product of months of planning by JT3). Adams started the game and played just one possession, when he dunked the ball for the game's opening points. The basket was uncontested, the result of a classy decision by Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard that, in his words, "Great kids should get rewarded in life." Adams is a great kid, and the basket was a fitting send-off for a selfless, enthusiastic, and genuine member of the team.
The Hoyas never trailed, although the result was far from preordained. Both teams looked rough around the edges, committing a combined 27 turnovers, fouling a combined 39 times, and missing a combined 23 free throws. Some of Georgetown's sloppiness could be attributed to DSR's absence. While Campbell played encouragingly well, Seton Hall rightly turned up the defensive pressure, and produced several ball-handling mistakes by Georgetown. The missed free throws are also somewhat indirectly attributable to DSR, whose nearly 5 free-throw attempts and team-high 87% accuracy from the stripe didn't buoy the Hoyas' percentage. But even with these errors, Georgetown kept the lead at two possessions or more for the entire second half.
And there were encouraging signs throughout the game. Trawick and Campbell repeatedly penetrated into the lane, generating offense for themselves and their teammates. More Campbell and senior Aaron Bowen meant a quicker, more athletic lineup that put pressure on Seton Hall's guards, resulting in 10 steals. Mikael Hopkins continued a trend of efficient if not exactly overwhelming performances off the bench, tallying 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals on his Senior Day.
The shortcomings were obvious as well. Joshua Smith was active on offense but still struggled, missing 3 of his 4 field goals and nearly half of his 13 free throws. The Hoya defense was pulled too high time and again, leaving Pirates Brandon Mobley and Angel Delgado free to cut along the baseline. And Georgetown's perimeter defenders failed to lock down Sterling Gibbs, who shook free for 22 points on the strength of 5 three-pointers.
But let's be honest: today wasn't about the margin of victory against Seton Hall. Today was about honoring five seniors who were playing their last home game in the blue and gray. Trawick was emotional during a pregame ceremony and terrific after tipoff, burying a pair of threes while also getting to the basket at will. Hopkins and Bowen turned in performances that were more emblematic than standout, swarming on defense, crashing the boards, and finishing around the basket. Smith left some points on the table but, by virtue of making it to the end of this season in better shape, with good spirit, and as a valuable contributor to Georgetown's success, has come so far from where he began his career on the Hilltop.
Of course, Adams turned the most memorable performance, albeut in the shortest period of time. The big guy's energy and positivity have been constant over the past four years, even as he spent every game in a suit and tie rather than in uniform. After being sidelined for so long, Adams fittingly spent his final home game with Georgetown on his ches, starting and scoring before leaving the game to universal applause.
More calculatingly, Saturday also was about post-season positioning. To avoid tricky first-round Big East Tournament games next week against St. John's or Xavier, Georgetown needed a win today. The Hoyas got it, and instead will open play in Madison Square Garden Thursday evening against one of the DePaul-Seton Hall-Creighton-Marquette scrum at the bottom of the standings. None of those teams is a pushover, and Georgetown will need to be firing on all cylinders to advance.
Speaking of which, Saturday unexpectedly was about DSR getting right. Smith-Rivera has been clearly the best player on this Georgetown team, and the Hoyas will need him in postseason play. He reportedly banged knees in the Butler game, warmed up today, but did not feel up to going. From available accounts, both DSR and the team appear to have taken today with appropriate caution, viewing postseason advancement as the larger, more important goal. DSR cleared up any doubt about his status postgame:
I'm not injured but thanks for all the love & concern man ! True Hoya #Blessed
— DSR (@DSR43) March 7, 2015
Finally, Saturday is about the Casual Extravaganza. So, stop reading this and get after it. Hoya Saxa!