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X’ed Out: Georgetown Surrenders 17-Point Lead, Loses at Xavier, 81-75

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Hoyas go dry after fast start, can’t defend Musketeers inside

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown ran out to a 17-point lead Wednesday night only to give it up and then some, falling on the road at Xavier, 81-75. This was the Hoyas’ third loss this season, and second straight, in which they surrendered a double-digit lead. Against Xavier, a mix of offensive futility and defensive incompetence did Georgetown in.

The Hoyas seemed poised to pull off the Tre Campbell Memorial Upset at Xavier Wednesday night. Xavier has scuffled through early-season play, and was without Quentin Goodin, its leading assist man and third-leading scorer. Early on, Georgetown upheld its end of the bargain. The Hoyas knocked down their first five three-pointers on the evening, and found offense beyond the arc and at the rim. Jessie Govan, who scored a game-high 27 points, was particularly effective on offense, scoring from the post, hitting a three-pointer, and hitting a put-back to put the Hoyas up 13. Greg Malinowski, Jamorko Pickett, and James Akinjo hit early triples to fuel the fire. When Malinowski fed Joshua LeBlanc for a wide-open dunk, the Hoyas’ lead swelled to 39-22 with 4 minutes remaining in the half.

Very little went right from there. Xavier rattled off 12 straight points to end the half, much as St. John’s came back just before the break on Saturday. On defense, the Musketeers switched to a 2-3 zone that kept Georgetown scoreless for more than 5 minutes spanning halftime. On offense, Xavier doubled down on punching the ball inside. The X perimeter players drove to the hole, while the Musketeer bigs found deep post position with ease. The Hoya lead had whittled to five by half, and disappeared soon afterward.

Georgetown had no solutions on either end of the floor. Despite having played against a similar Syracuse zone just a few weeks ago, the Hoyas wasted precious possessions during the Musketeer comeback. Georgetown struggled to enter the ball inside the arc, and the Hoyas’ outside shooting went dry from beyond it.

On defense, the Hoyas couldn’t contain the Xavier double-big combination of Zach Hankins (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyrique Jones, (19, 10). Both Musketeer big men proved too elusive and too skilled for Govan and the other Hoya bigs, connecting on 15 of 23 shots from the field while grabbing a combined 10 offensive rebounds. Not that the posts are overpowering forces, mind you — each more than doubled his scoring average on Wednesday night.

After a brief see-saw that saw a few lead changes, Xavier pulled ahead by seven, never to relinquish the lead. Georgetown narrowed the deficit to just a possession, here and there, but never could get enough stops to pull even again.

On the heels of a similarly disappointing loss to St. John’s on Saturday night, Georgetown looks a bit adrift. On the one hand, the Hoyas have played better across three Big East games than they had for much of non-conference play. They beat Butler on the road and led their two other opponents by double figures. On the other hand, the defensive issues that plagued Georgetown before Big East play persist, and the Hoyas struggle to counter their opponents’ in-game adjustments.

Saturday, Georgetown has the opportunity to right the ship at home against Providence. As with the rest of the Hoyas’ season, the forecast for Saturday is mixed. On the one hand, the Friars have lost both of their conference games so far, both at home, and appear to be in disarray. On the other hand, Providence has beaten Georgetown eight straight times, so the Hoyas are underdogs against the Friars until they prove otherwise.

We’ll have more later in the evening. Hoya Saxa.