Going on the road to the conference's loudest and most partisan venue was an important test for this erratic Georgetown Hoyas team. Unfortunately, the final result bore a strong and disappointing resemblance to the demoralizing home losses at the end of non-conference play. Defensive lapses allowed the Creighton Bluejays to #LetItFly from beyond the arc, their preferred offensive strategy from years past. Georgetown regained the advantage briefly in the second half, but the team was unable to maintain their composure. Turnovers on three consecutive possessions - without managing a defensive stop - sealed their fate.
If the Hoyas have struggled for consistency at both ends of the court when able to implement their own game plan, it should come as no surprise that allowing Creighton to dictate the style and pace of play was not going to end well. Both teams were taking (and making) a large number of threes early on, with seven different Georgetown players tallying points from beyond the arc in the first half alone. Tre Campbell, who has struggled to score as a started, kicked off the barrage. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Reggie Cameron, and L.J. Peak chimed in with their own soon after. On the other end of the court, frequent lapses in defensive rotation and getting trapped behind screens left veteran James Milliken with wide-open shots; the former starter and current 6th man was in double digits by the break.
The dangerous consequence of the hot outside shooting was how it elevated the speed at which the game was being played. Frenetic passing led to intercepted passes and wild deflections. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was the only Georgetown player able to exploit this, totaling 17 points (with 7 assists) on the day and moving into 11th place on the Hoyas all-time scoring list. The Jays' interior defenders were unsure how to proceed as the senior guard scored both attacking the rim in transition and pulling up for jumpers at the foul line.
Unfortunately, the true beneficiary of the pace was Boston University transfer Maurice Watson Jr., who finished the game with a career-high 27 points (along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists). West Philadelphia born and raised, it took a year before Watson acclimated to Omaha, and this was the Hoyas' first look at the Junior PG. Given the ease with which he got to the basket this evening, it is still debatable whether or not Georgetown players were able to see him on the court. He is the type of versatile guard who has been this team's kryptonite in the past, getting inside to draw fouls, pulling up for mid-range shots and converting open looks from outside. Feels as though you've heard this story before, right?
Bradley Hayes' hook shot was not dropping early in the first half, though he did a serviceable job with the strawberry blond 7-footer he was matching up against in the paint. Before the loss to Villanova, Geoffrey Groselle boasted the highest FG% in the Big East. While not hefty, he is an experienced (in flopping) inside presence that required some finesse to neutralize without fouling. L.J. Peak came off the bench again, though his contribution was less steadying than it had been in the previous two games. Kaleb Johnson, whose performance was lauded by John Thompson III after the Marquette game, chipped in a three and drew the third foul on Groselle, but only saw 9 minutes on the court.
The true bright spot from tonight's game was the performance of Jessie Govan, who tallied a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor. His own teammates respect his abilities, as DSR chose to pass it to the big man for an elbow jumper instead of taking the semi-contested shot himself. Creighton's defenders tended to sag off the freshman center when he was further from the basket, an opportunity that Govan pounced on, smoothly shooting 3/3 from beyond the arc. He also collected 7 rebounds and finished through contact when matching up against Groselle and Zach Hanson in the paint. A running hook shot that drew a foul on Groselle late in the second half would, in a happier alternate universe, have been the spark that inspired the Hoyas to mount a comeback.
Tied at 48, the Hoyas' tenuous control of the game seemed to evaporate. Marcus Derrickson missed a defensive rotation, leaving freshman Ronnie Harrell Jr. wide open. On the next possession, Mo Watson nailed a pull-up jumper. Georgetown's turnover woes began in earnest, as DSR fired the ball to where Tre Campbell had been...5 seconds earlier. Isaac Copeland's only measurable positive contribution to the game may have been a rebound off a DSR miss. He was mostly invisible during the first half, a turnover liability during the second, yet inexplicably played more than 30 minutes. A 6-point deficit ballooned to fifteen during the final minutes, as the Hoyas committed 4 turnovers in a 1:28 interval. That implosion put victory beyond their reach once and for all.
All told, Creighton scored 24 points off Georgetown turnovers. The Hoyas defense was unable to communicate and rotate in such a way that would limit the Bluejays' outside shot. Our opponent's veteran guard was allowed to have a career night. Winning games like this, on the road, during Big East play, is how this team will have to prove that they are worthy of an NCAA tournament berth. That did not happen tonight.
For their next game, Georgetown is back at home against DePaul, a team they have already beaten once this season. That, again, is a contest they should (and need to) win. The team and the fans have four days to regroup before action resumes Saturday at noon at the Verizon Center.
Everybody needs to go sleep this one off. Hoya Saxa.