Georgetown seized its last surefire win Monday night, pounding hapless St. John's almost from the jump en route to an easy 92-67 win. The Red Storm are one of the worst teams that the Hoyas have faced this year, but Georgetown still came out running, pushing, and slashing, freeing up easy shots at the rim and wide open perimeter jumpers. Three Hoyas scored 20 or more points, most notably Isaac Copeland, who scored a career-high 23 points, his third straight game in double figures after a bad sophomore slump.
St. John's has cured whatever ailed its Big East opponents this year, as the Red Storm have gone winless in conference play, losing 8 of those 12 games by double digits. They have the least efficient offense in the league and the second-least efficient defense (Thanks, DePaul!). They also play at the fastest pace on both ends of the floor, jacking up awful shots early and then escorting opponents into the paint for high-percentage looks. A tumbleweed could blow down the lane for a lay-up against St. John's.
But the Hoyas did more than just take what the Red Storm gave them. Georgetown pushed the pace from the outset, getting into the lane at will. From there, Hoyas who penetrated either finished at the rim or kicked out to find open shooters. All that activity yielded easy shots. Georgetown shot 59 percent from inside the arc, 45 percent from 3, and 75 percent from the line on a healthy 24 attempts. While some of this was just the ball going in instead of not, more of it was the Georgetown ball-handlers getting the ball into the lane.
One of those driving Hoyas was LJ Peak, who scored 20 points, his seventh straight game with double figure scoring. While many of his teammates have struggled offensively this season, Peak has (somewhat) shaken off chronic early season foul trouble to compile the sophomore season so many fans expected. During that seven-game stretch, the sophomore wing is shooting a scorching 56 percent from the field and has made (small sample-size alert) 11 of 18 threes. Monday was more of the same, as Peak slashed, Euro-stepped, cut, and dunked his way to a very efficient 9 of 14 from the field. Some regression may be in store soon, but Peak's increasingly impressive sophomore campaign has buoyed an often frustrating season for the team.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also did what he wanted to do against the Red Storm's jumbled defense. DSR scored a game-high 24 points without really pressing the issue. Smith-Rivera occasionally just popped a triple (3 of 6 from deep on the evening) or spun in a crafty shot around the rim for no other reason than his defender failed to close out or took a bad angle. Smith-Rivera passed David Wingate into sixth place on Georgetown's all-time scoring list, with Othella Harrington at fifth well within reach. At times this season, those points have felt like empty calories, but his consistent production across four seasons is impressive.
And the third scoring Hoya was Copeland, recently returned from a horrific drought. Ike lost his jump shot for a while there, missing 16 consecutive three-point attempts and scoring just 11 points across 4 games. He emerged from that slump in Saturday's dismal loss at Seton Hall and emphatically broke out Monday night against the Red Storm, hitting a pair of three-pointers and a handful of jumpers overall while also grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds.
Georgetown needed this win badly. Looking back, the Hoyas needed to halt a three-game losing streak (that, but for a miracle comeback against Creighton, would've been five). But the remaining schedule, with no gimme wins, also required Georgetown to get on the right foot against St. John's. The Hoyas did so, and then some.
So what comes next? Six games left in the regular season, one almost certain loss (at Villanova) and five battles, the first coming at Providence on Saturday. Georgetown could still squeeze into the dance, but it will require an alignment of the stars that just hasn't happened for these Hoyas yet. DSR, Peak, and Copeland all need to play well (although perhaps not as well as tonight), and Georgetown probably needs at least one more threat each game to keep opposing defenses honest. The Hoyas need to avoid defensive meltdowns like they had at Butler (particularly when the Bulldogs come to D.C.). And they probably need a bit of luck. All of that just seems a tad to much to ask.
But viewed individually, tonight was fun. Georgetown brought its A game, its stars played to their potential, and the Hoyas got an easy, if expected, win. Hoya Saxa.