Game 10: Southern Methodist Mustangs (6-4) at Georgetown Hoyas (7-2)
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Capital One Arena
Series: Hoyas lead 1-0, only meeting in the 1984 NCAA Tournament (2nd round)
TV: FS1 (Justin Kutcher & Doug Gottlieb)
Radio: Team 980 (Rich Chvotkin)
KenPom Prediction: Georgetown 78, SMU 74 (66 percent)
Line: Hoyas -4.5, o/u 151.5
Georgetown begins a season long four-game homestand when the Southern Methodist Mustangs visit Chinatown for the first time on Saturday. This is the first game in a home-and-home with the American Athletic Conference school that will see the Hoyas travel to Moody Coliseum next year.
There isn’t much history between Georgetown and SMU basketball as the schools have only previously met once going back to the second round of the 1984 NCAA Tournament. In that game the Hoyas had to overcame a halftime deficit before hanging on for a 37-36 victory on their way to an eventual National Championship. There could have been a rematch the following year in the Sweet 16 but SMU fell in the second round.
More recently the two schools have only been linked by a transfer. Akoy Agau played the 2016-17 season for the Hoyas but then departed for SMU shortly after Patrick Ewing was named coach last year. Agau, who posted similar numbers at both schools as mainly a reserve, is actually now back at his original school – Louisville – for his sixth year in college. It’s been quite the ride for Akoy Agau.
Last time out the Hoyas saw their four game winning streak come to an end after a poor second half doomed Georgetown for the second straight year against rivals Syracuse. Jessie Govan led the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds and knocked down a late 3-pointer that nearly stood as the game winner. Mac McClung added 18 points but needed 16 shots to get there. The three other starters – James Akinjo, Jamorko Pickett, and Trey Mourning - combined for just for just 11 attempts.
SMU is looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2017-18 season that saw the Mustangs lose 9 of its final 11 games to finish just 17-16. SMU had won at least 25 games in each of the previous four seasons, earning an NCAA Tournament bid under then coach Larry Brown in 2015 and then again in 2017 in coach Tim Jankovich’s first season in charge.
Senior guard Jahmal McMurray leads four in double-figures with 18.5 points. McMurray, a South Florida transfer, drills nearly four 3-pointers per game while posting a 42 percent average from deep. Joining McMurray on the preseason all AAC second time is fellow senior Jarrey Foster, who recently returned after being out with an injury. SMU is 3-1 since Foster’s return.
Jimmy Whitt, who is third on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and second in rebounding (6.3 rpg), had SMU’s fifth ever triple-double this season in a win over McNeese State.
SMU’s best win this season is a 77-76 win over Wright State in Mexico back on Nov 21.
WHAT TO WATCH
Can Jamorko Pickett get going before conference play begins at the end of the month?
Pickett only took two shots at Syracuse. The struggling sophomore had three turnovers and three fouls in just 15 minutes. Ewing sat Pickett the final 17:38 in the Carrier Dome. Ewing has praised Pickett’s defense at times this season but elected to keep him on the bench as Georgetown failed to protect a one-point lead with 11 seconds left. Tyus Battle made the game winner over Jagan Mosely while Kaleb Johnson was put into the game for the first time on that last Syracuse possession.
Did Greg Malinowski earn more minutes?
The William & Mary transfer came up big in the second half when things looked to be getting away from the Hoyas. Malinowski played the final 10 minutes of the second half, scoring his Georgetown high 11 points on a perfect 3 for 3 shooting. Shooting is an issue for Georgetown’s guards as Akinjo, McClung, Blair, and Mosely are all shooting less then 40 percent from the field while Malinowski is just over 60 percent. The difference is Malinowski is only getting up 2.6 shots per game. It might be time to run more plays for Malinowski.
Can Akinjo and McClung get going in the same game?
Ewing sat both freshmen guards over the final 10 minutes, electing to go with Jahvon Blair and Mosely. Akinjo was struggling with turnovers – five – while McClung was seemingly shooting on every touch. Mosely didn’t take a shot – and was called for the crucial last charge – while Blair went 1 of 8 from deep. The most optimal lineup at the moment might have Akinjo and McClung subbing for each other as it would provide balance offensively.
FUTURE NON-CONFERNCE OPPONENTS
As noted above, Georgetown and SMU’s only previous meeting took place in the NCAA Tournament while Ewing was a player. So what if Georgetown started picking future non-conference opponents based on past postseason match-ups while Ewing was a player? It would actually be a pretty great strategy.
Here are the 18 opponents Ewing faced in the NCAAs as a player:
1982: Wyoming, Fresno State, Oregon State, Louisville, North Carolina
1983: Alcorn State, Memphis
1984: SMU, UNLV, Dayton, Kentucky, Houston
1985: Lehigh, Temple, Loyola-Chicago, Georgia Tech, St. John’s, Villanova
So what do we have here?
Obviously you can scratch St. John’s and Villanova off the list as they are still conference foes. Rotating big home-and-home series against the likes of North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, and Memphis would be a huge boost to the current schedule in terms of quality of opponent, fan excitement, and it would offer a much needed attendance boost.
While Memphis has been on the Hoyas schedule a decent amount over the years and Louisville was in the BIG EAST for seven years, games against Kentucky and North Carolina have been few and far between.
Georgetown last faced Kentucky in the 1984 Final Four. North Carolina and Georgetown have met five times since the 1982 National Championship game but none of them have been regularly scheduled between the schools– NCAA Tournament, NIT, Maui, and ACC – BIG EAST Challenge. If Georgetown wants to go retro, this would be a good place to start.
Moving down a tier there are a lot of other good match-up possibilities with Dayton, Temple, Georgia Tech, UNLV, Houston, Oregon State, Loyola-Chicago, and Fresno State. Even Lehigh would be a good mid-major to play.
A pretty solid schedule could go something like this: North Carolina, Houston, Dayton.
You could then throw in a preseason tournament, limit the 300 level KenPom types, and, boom, you’ve got the type of schedule that gets you Dancing with a .500 record in the league. If Syracuse stays on the schedule you could drop out one three teams listed above.
Anyway, this is just another way of pointing out that Georgetown’s schedule needs help, particularly when SMU is the best non-conference game on the home slate.
Prediction: Georgetown 84, SMU 81