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Game Preview: Georgetown vs LaSalle

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NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational Day Two- Georgetown vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Game 10: Georgetown Hoyas (5-4) vs LaSalle Explorers (4-3)

Series: LaSalle leads series 15-9, last played in 1980

Where/When: American Airlines Arena (Miami), Saturday 2PM EST

TV: ESPN2

Line: Hoyas -3

KenPom: Hoyas 80-76, 64 percent

Admit it.

When the schedule came out you probably didn’t circle this neutral site LaSalle game on your calendar unless you needed a reason to justify a quick Miami weekend getaway before the Holidays.

Well thanks to going 1-3 against the big names and dropping another unexpected tilt against a mid-major at home, Georgetown is basically in a position where it needs to win the remaining four non-conference games on the schedule in order to have a realistic shot at the NCAAs down the road.

While LaSalle has yet to register a quality win this season they have played both Temple and, more recently as you may have seen, top ranked Villanova very close. They do share something in common with Georgetown as they also have what has to be considered a bad loss in the form of a 77-76 defeat at the hands of Texas Southern.

“They have one of the best offenses in the country,” said coach John Thompson III on a Friday phone interview.

“Like Elon they can put five shooters on the court. and hurt you”

It should be noted that the Phoenix had six players hit at least one three-pointer in the Hoyas narrow win last Sunday. LaSalle seems better based on all of the available metrics out there.

Been Awhile: Georgetown and LaSalle last met in the Third Place game of something called the Cabrillo Classic in San Diego way back in 1980. To put in perspective at just how long ago this really was, in the first game of that tournament the Hoyas lost to then No. 1 DePaul. Yeah, that DePaul.

Awful Fact: I accidentally stumbled upon this tidbit so I wanted to share. LaSalle has only had five winning seasons in coach John Giannini’s previous 12 seasons but he has guided the Explorers to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament more recently than the Hoyas. LaSalle made the Sweet 16 in 2013.

Getting to know the Explorers

As you probably read about in the latest Sleeping with the Enemy, LaSalle’s best player so far is a former Syracuse guy in BJ Johnson. After not playing all that much in his first two seasons Johnson came to his senses and left upstate New York. The change of scenery has done him extremely well as the junior leads four Explorer double-digit scorers at 17.9 points per game.

Jordan Price, Pookie Powell, and Cleon Roberts join Johnson in averaging more than ten points per game. They also all started their college careers elsewhere. Powell is the only one of the bunch that really isn’t a threat from deep.

Hoyas

What to Watch

Week Off: Before the week off JT3 said he was anxious for the Hoyas to get a chance to get better and a chance to get healthy. Kaleb Johnson missed the Elon game and only began to practice on Thursday leaving his status in doubt. Isaac Copeland, who returned last game, is feeling better and will be available. Copeland had considered wearing a mask but didn’t has decided against it.

Copeland’s slow start to the season has been an unexpected problem for this year’s Hoyas as all of his numbers are down. It’s unlikely the Hoyas can accomplish their goal of returning to the NCAA tournament with Copeland playing like this.

“We need Isaac to be Isaac,” said JT3 when asked about Copeland’s importance to the team’s success long term.

Rebound: There’s a problem when Elon finishes a game with four more total rebounds than Georgetown. Looking even worse is the 13-4 edge that the Phoenix had on the offensive glass. Is this a matter of skill or a matter of desire? Who can provide some help? Marcus Derrickson and Copeland need to help the Hoyas in this department.

Govan Again? When Bradley Hayes started the season ineligible, Jessie Govan got the nod at center for the Hoyas from the opening tip. Since the return of Hayes, Govan has been coming off the bench. Unlike last season when Hayes started the season like he was shot out of a canon, he’s struggled a bit this season. At what point will JT3 flip back to the sophomore? Last time out Govan proved to be better on both ends of the court and played 11 more minutes than the fifth-year senior.

JT3 said that he looks as both players as starters and even feels confident in Akoy Agau’s ability to man the center position.

Reason to be delusional: You’re actually going to the game which means you’re in Miami. Enjoy.

Reason to be cynical: You’re a big fan of the transitive property in sports and you just saw how tough LaSalle played Villanova earlier this week. That can’t be good.

Prediction: Isaac Copeland returns to play a prominent role as Georgetown responds after a week of practice. Also, Rodney Pryor scores 30. Hoyas 77, Explorers 70