In dire need of a win to make one final push towards the postseason, Georgetown delivered just that on Wednesday night in coasting to an 82-73 victory over DePaul at Capital One Arena.
Jessie Govan scored a game-high 26 points, Mac McClung had 15, and James Akinjo added 13 to help the Hoyas end a two-game home skid to the Blue Demons in front of a light crowd of 5,176.
Georgetown (17-11, 7-8 BIG EAST) clinched a winning record for the first time since 2015 in a game where DePaul (13-13, 5-10) led for just 12 seconds.
Max Strus led four Blue Demons in double-figures with 25 points who fell into last place in the BIG EAST standings.
Coach Patrick Ewing shook things up from the start by inserting Jagan Mosely into the starting line-up for Jamorko Pickett. The junior guard scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in his second start of the season while Pickett didn’t play at all despite being in uniform in what Ewing would describe afterwards as a ‘coach’s decision’.
It was Ewing’s eighth different starting line-up in 28 games. Only Govan has started every game this season while Pickett missed just his second game in two years as a Hoya.
With just three games left, Ewing knows how important it is for his team to finish strong in order to give the committee something to think about on Selection Sunday.
“Our problem is we’ll have a great game today and then exhale and take a step back for the next one and we can’t do that especially going down the stretch,” Ewing explained.
“Everyone is fighting for seeding right now and we have a great opportunity in improving our chances to make the NCAAs if we take care of business.”
Georgetown: Held serve at home against DePaul. Win doesn't help much, but a loss would've surely hurt the Hoyas.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) February 28, 2019
Georgetown moved into a tie for fourth-place with Xavier and Seton Hall, just a game behind third place St. John’s.
“You focus on the task at hand which is winning the game that you’re playing but you also have to talk about the big picture,” Ewing said when asked if he’s talked to his team about their NCAA Tournament hopes.
“There’s only three games left now and if we do what we’re supposed to do then we have a great chance of playing in the postseason.”
Now while Ewing said ‘postseason’ instead of NCAA Tournament in that last remark, the NIT doesn’t seem to be something he’s talked about publicly although that would be a step in the right direction.
Currently at 7-8, Georgetown could finish at 10-8 by running the table.
Since realignment, only one 10-8 BIG EAST team has been left out of the NCAAs and that was St. John’s in 2014, who ended up getting a one seed in the NIT.
It gets a bit dicey at 9-9 as three teams have missed the NCAAs with that mark – 2014 Marquette, 2016 Creighton, and 2018 Marquette. The 2014 Golden Eagles missed postseason altogether while the other two .500 squads landed in the NIT.
Georgetown let DePaul hang around until the 6 minute mark, leading just 29-27 before busting things open with an 11-2 run which was highlighted by something Ewing has been looking for - a McClung highlight reel dunk.
Near midcourt, McClung jumped a lazy pass by Eli Cain and turned it into a crowd pleasing, double-pump, reverse jam that drew the delight of his coach.
“It’s funny because I’ve been telling him when am I going to see some of those highlight dunks - and he got one,” Ewing said of McClung’s dunk that put the Hoyas up 37-27.
The big question going into Saturday’s Senior Night will be whether Georgetown can string together consecutive league wins for the second time this season or if they will once again alternate losses and wins since the fifth straight time since the first meeting with Seton Hall on Feb 13.
Govan, who had his most points in a game since dropping a career-high 33 against Providence on Jan 12, knows its now or never as he wants to make the postseason once before leaving school.
“I think it was a good win in terms of the NCAA Tournament picture,” Govan said.
“We know we need to finish the season strong and it started today against DePaul so hopefully we can keep this momentum going and get a good win against Seton Hall on Saturday.”
Speaking of Govan, the senior big continued to move up in the Hoyas record books with his performance Wednesday. I even tweeted about it so I’ll save myself from typing it again.
Jessie Govan keeps moving up in the Georgetown record books.— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) February 28, 2019
Govan is now 13th in scoring with 1,594, passing John Duren tonight.
Govan is up to 9th in rebounding with 811 passing Roy Hibbert
Hoyas host Seton Hall on Saturday on Govan's Senior Night