Your Georgetown Hoyas barely bothered to scuff up their gorgeous pink Jordans Saturday, getting blown out 90-66 by the hot-shooting Creighton Blue Jays. The visitors led this game from wire to wire, pushing the ball with a drive-and-kick game that left Georgetown flat-footed, and packing in a defense that relegated the Hoyas to aimless jumpers. In all, it was easily the worst performance of the nascent Patrick Ewing era.
Creighton set the tone from the jump on Saturday, hitting four three-pointers in as many minutes to build an early 12-3 advantage. The Blue Jays shared the ball freely, generating 24 assists on 33 baskets, including 22 on their first 24. Stretch big man Toby Hegner particularly stood out in the early going, pulling Georgetown’s bigs away from the basket and pouring in a game-high 19 points largely on the strength of 5 three-pointers. Blue Jay guard Davion Mintz, who came into the game averaging just over 5 points per game, tied a career high with 17 points of his own, fueled by 4 buckets from beyond the arc.
Some of the Hoyas’ weaknesses against Creighton can be chalked up to personnel. Creighton’s bigs can shoot, forcing opposing defenses to navigate action beyond the arc. Georgetown bigs Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson struggle in space defensively, particularly when paired together. Georgetown also has a number of defensive liabilities on the perimeter, and Creighton’s egalitarian ball movement tended to find those weaknesses, resulting in one three-pointer in another.
But Saturday’s blowout wasn’t just attributable to bad match-ups and weak defenders. Bad effort was to blame as well. Unlike the Marquette loss last weekend, when the Hoyas sustained their defensive effort despite an offensively potent opponent, Georgetown looked more than a step slow on Saturday. The Hoyas closed out casually (not a good thing!), left Creighton bigs wide open on pick-and-pops, and generally played with none of the urgency that characterized Creighton’s penetration, cutting, and ball movement.
Of course, Creighton boasts one of the country’s better offenses, an explosive drive-and-kick scheme where everyone can shoot, move without the ball, and navigate space. Saturday was the ninth game that the Blue Jays have scored at least 90 points, with five of those totals reaching triple digits. They’ve run and gunned for several years now, honing a system and executing it well.
Georgetown, for its part, is at square one. Ewing has identified the system that he wants to play, pushing the ball and finding easy shots. But his players are still learning that system, often just jogging the ball up the court or standing still off-ball in the half-court. He hasn’t yet been able to recruit the personnel that suits him, or spent the years that make the playmaking Creighton exhibited Saturday intuitive. Ewing spoke after Tuesday’s win over DePaul about breaking old habits and instilling new ones, and, as is clear from Saturday’s performance, that process is ongoing.
The contrast between Creighton and Georgetown was evident whenever the Hoyas gained possession Saturday. Creighton was prepared for Georgetown’s tempo and sent multiple defenders back as soon as a gray jersey grabbed the ball. The Blue Jays were equally prepared for the Hoyas’ shooting woes, and so packed the lane, ceding the outside shot. Georgetown wasn’t equal to the task, connecting on just 6 of 23 three-pointers. The Hoyas’ sets frequently stagnated, failing to open up a second option when a quick-hitting set failed to yield a shot. Georgetown’s wings and guards stood still off-ball, leaving Creighton free to hone in on the strong side.
One bright spot—and there may have been only one—was freshman forward Antwan Walker. Walker played 14 minutes, a bigger total than normal with Derrickson playing reduced minutes because of the shot to the face he took Tuesday at DePaul, and Ewing generally eschewing two-big lineups given Creighton’s shooting. ‘Twan played like he deserves those minutes more frequently, netting 8 points and hauling in 7 rebounds. Walker was active when his teammates were not, finding space on offense, crashing the boards, and competing on defense. He still has a lot to learn, fouling too frequently and occasionally getting overeager with his shot, but Walker’s effort was a breath of fresh air on Saturday.
Every team has its off days, and Saturday was the first conspicuously bad effort of conference play by the Hoyas. That compounded what might have been an unwinnable game anyway, given Creighton's hot shooting and match-up problems. Georgetown’s season will be defined less by this loss than by how it reacts to this loss. The Hoyas return to action Tuesday in a road tilt at St. John’s. Hopefully, they bounce back from today’s nightmare.