Georgetown suffered its worst ever Big East loss Wednesday night, getting blown out 88-56 by #1 Villanova in a game that, improbably, wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. The visiting Wildcats mauled the Hoyas from wire to wire, shooting a scorching 60 percent and making more than half of their 33 three-point attempts. For their part, the Hoyas couldn’t disrupt Villanova and couldn’t unlock a solution on offnese. The embarrassing rout further underscores how far Patrick Ewing has to come in rebuilding Georgetown to compete with the Big East’s elite.
The top-ranked Wildcats very much looked the part from the jump. After an opening Jessie Govan reverse-pivot jumper—undoubtedly the highlight of the game—Villanova scored the next 11 points, an early but decisive run jump-started by a pair of well-contested three-pointers.
For a few minutes, it appeared that Georgetown might fight back. Having mustered just that Govan bucket before the first media timeout, the Hoyas clawed their way back, sort of. A Kaleb Johnson block got the crowd on its feet, a Jagan Mosely floater closed the gap to 5, and, after a Hoya stop, a Jahvon Blair three hung in the air.
There’s always a nervous energy in the air when hosting a top-rated opponent. A bigger crowd than normal tends to show up, although the fans on hand Wednesday night were decidedly fewer than Georgetown’s 2006 upset of Duke. The home crowd delusionally hopes for an upset, feeling that there must be something special about the visit from the best team in the land. With equal anxiety, the same fans cynically fear the worst, hoping, “Just not in the face.”
When Blair’s attempted three was off, cynicism was rewarded. Georgetown proceeded to take it directly in the face for the ensuing 28 minutes. A Villanova lay-up allowed the Wildcats to set up a press, which yielded a Hoya turnover, which begat a Wildcat three, followed by another giveaway, leading to another Villanova triple. On the next trip down, Georgetown managed to shoot twice but miss both attempts, allowing the Wildcats to set up for yet another trey. The Hoyas were blocked and then turned the ball over the next two trips, mistakes that turned into two more Villanova deep balls, one of which became a four-point play thanks to a shooting foul.
In all, Villanova took 6 trips up the floor in just under 3 minutes of game action and scored 18 points, wealth equitably distributed across four different Wildcats. During the same stretch, Georgetown achieved some parity of its own, dividing its possessions equally between 4 missed shots and 4 turnovers. At the end of this early onslaught, ‘Nova suddenly had a 31-8 lead.
It was a stunning, ruthless exhibition of top-notch basketball by the Wildcats. Villanova was quick, decisive, and patient, bloodlessly hunting out open three-pointers, probing (but not having to probe to much) until the Georgetown defense inevitably cracked. The Hoyas made some defensive mistakes, sure, but were more hampered by the Wildcats’ flawless execution.
Georgetown’s own offense, which was alternately inept and inert, didn’t help, either. The Hoyas were generally able to move the ball up the floor against the Wildcat press. Villanova didn’t pick up full court to force turnovers, but rather to the delay the Hoya attack, preventing it from transition opportunities and from easy entry passes into the post. In that regard, the tactic succeeded. The Hoya guards took so long to get the ball up the court, and had such trouble gaining any momentum toward the basket, that Govan and fellow big Marcus Derrickson got precious few looks down low.
After the break was more of the same. I could detail the awful, gory details for you, but chances are that you either saw the game and are masochistically reading and so should shut your computer, rub your eyes, and go find something worthwhile to do, or you didn’t see this game and oh god tell us what it was like to do something that didn’t involve self-loathing for those precious two hours.
Who knows where we go from here. This is a tough roster for Patrick Ewing to inherit in so many ways. Neither Jonathan Mulmore nor Trey Dickerson can generate much of anything on offense, and the other guards can’t handle the ball well enough to lead the offense. The wings have gone largely silent. Johnson has followed up an impressive non-conference breakout with a slightly better version of the stumbling, overmatched underclassman we saw the previous two years. Jamorko Pickett has made just 1 of his last 13 three-point attempts while failing to affect the game in other ways. The freshmen may be solid program guys in time, but they’re all still a long ways from being difference makers against a top-notch opponent like Villanova. The two cornerstones of this team, Govan and Derrickson, are very good but can get played off the floor by a five-out offense like Villanova’s.
With that back-drop, it’s tough to evaluate Ewing’s rookie campaign as the head man at Georgetown. His teams largely compete on defense, and there’s only so much he can do to implement offensive principles without an effective lead guard or reliable wing play.
The Hoyas have the opportunity to right the ship, to a degree anyway, with two more upcoming home dates against St. John’s and DePaul. We’ll see what we see then. Chances are, it won’t be more of the same nightmare we saw tonight. But whether it’ll be much better is anyone’s guess.