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GAME THREAD: No. 9 Villanova at Georgetown!

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Happy Big East Opening Day

Rafael Suanes/Georgetown Athletics

Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown host the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats at the world famous McDonough Arena!

Game 5: No. 9 Villanova Wildcats (4-1) at Georgetown Hoyas (2-2)

When: Friday, 7PM

Where: McDonough Arena

Series: Georgetown leads 44-42

Last meetings: Villanova won 70-69 on March 7, 2020

TV: FS1 (Scott Graham & Donny Marshall)

Radio: Team980 (Rich Chvotkin, 47th season)

KenPom Ranking: Villanova 3, Georgetown 97

KenPom Projection: Villanova 76, Georgetown 66, (82 percent)

Line: Villanova -11.5; o/u 143.5

Bobby’s Keys to Watch:

1. Turnovers: Not to get too simplistic here but Georgetown was able to win a game last time out against Coppin State by 32 points despite turning it over 26 times. Starting guards Jalen Harris and Jahvon Blair combined for 12. That isn’t a winning formula in Big East play, especially against Villanova which plays at a slower pace and doesn’t turn the ball over very often on their end.

2. Efficient Seniors: Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair – outside of the aforementioned turnover issue – had two of their best games as Hoyas from an efficiency standpoint on Tuesday. While it’s not realistic for Pickett to go for nearly 20-20 all the time, he should be able to shoot better than 50 percent and grab about 10 boards a night. Blair was a very nice 4 for 8 from deep against Coppin in once again leading the team in scoring with 22 points.

PREVIEW

Hey, Hey! It’s not exactly Christmas morning or the Catalina Wine Mixer over here but today is the first day of BIG EAST play as Georgetown hosts No. 9 Villanova at McDonough.

It’s the first time the Hoyas have hosted a conference game on campus since….any guesses??….Feb. 28, 1981 against UConn. And it looks like, based on last year’s Georgetown media guide, that only once has a Big East opponent showed up to McDonough ranked (No. 10 St. John’s 1/19/80). So that means this year’s team can pull of a first with a win over a ranked conference foe as those eventually Elite 8 bound 1980 Hoyas dropped a 71-69 heartbreaker to the Johnnies way back when.

Ok so on to this year’s match-up.

Coach Patrick Ewing and grad transfer Chudi Bile spoke with the media on Thursday morning and we learned a few things.

Ewing’s update on Kobe Clark was that the freshman had a bad ankle sprain but that nothing was broken. Ewing said he wasn’t sure when he would return. Apparently, this conflicts with what Clark has put out on social media but the odds seem to indicate that Clark is out this weekend. Something to keep in mind is that a healthy Clark didn’t play against West Virginia and has only seen nine minutes since his solid performance in the season opener.

As for those turnovers, Ewing still thinks his team is learning how to play with each other – especially with the lightening quick grad transfer Jalen Harris (6 apg, 3.3 t/o).

“It’s got to be a little bit of both,” Ewing said about Harris adjusting to his teammates and vice versa.

“They have to learn him and he has to learn them. Some of the passes that he’s making he has to think twice before he does it. Sometimes he drives in there and gets in there too far and has no outlet and turns it over where he should pass the ball one dribble early.”

Ewing also said that while he’d like to leading scorer Jahvon Blair a few more breaks per game but that he also needs to keep the best players on the court. Blair is second in the conference in scoring and minutes played.

“If he has to play a lot he’s built for that,” Ewing said about Blair’s ability to go nearly 40 minutes every game if need.

After a really poor performance against Villanova at home in his first year in charge, Ewing’s Hoyas should probably be 2-0 in DC against Jay Wright.

While it’s unclear on whether Ewing will go small again as he did against Coppin State at times, he did recognize that Villanova switches a lot one through five. Ewing has shown that he likes to play more traditional sets and get his big man involved but it sounds like he doesn’t want to force things against one of the best teams in the country.

“They do switch a lot one through five and we to make them pay,” Ewing said.

“And making them pay can’t be just staring down the post trying to go inside. We have to move it and when the shot goes up that big has to crush that small on the glass.

Although Villanova has four guys averaging double figures – Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (16.2 ppg), Collin Gillespie (14.6), Justin Moore (14.2), and Caleb Daniels (11.6) – Ewing doesn’t really think you can focus on any of them.

“They play five skill guys and anybody can get hot. You can’t just think of one person being able to do it. We have to guard our own man but then give help when help is needed.”

We were also able to speak with Chudi Bile for the first time this season and as it turns out a lot of people – myself included – have been saying his name wrong. Bile is pronounced like “Bee-Lay”. I’m glad we got that cleared up apologies to the grad transfer.

Bile has made steady improvements since missing the opener with a foot injury and he said he’s just get back to feeling good.

“I was out,” Bile said about missing the opener. “I didn’t practice for 2 and a half weeks, 3 weeks so that kind of set me back a little bit just because I felt like I was in a really good rhythm. Just now I’m getting my rhythm back. I’m starting to feel better now with my foot.”

Bile’s quote checks out with his play on the court as he’s improved in each outing and given Ewing something he’s desperately needed in reliable scoring off the bench.

As far as Bile’s assessment on the Hoyas so far, he’s seeing what we are all seeing.

“We have to cut down on our turnovers and continue to share the ball. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. We really need to cut down on our turnovers and try and get the ball inside.”

After earning All-Southland honors last season in a starting role, Bile isn’t bothered by coming off the bench to start things out this season.

“I don’t really care about starting or coming off the bench,” Bile said. “When I was in junior college I came off the bench. It’s about producing with the minutes you get. Its really about who finishes the game and not who starts.”

Ok so it’s prediction time from me. I think Georgetown plays this much like the West Virginia game in that it’s closer than people think and a bit like the Coppin State game in that Ewing will go smaller when Qudus Wahab is out. Both of those things will likely add up to a close loss for Georgetown - something like 67-61 Villanova.

Of course something that was just brought to my attention is that today is Roy Hibbert’s birthday. That actually might be enough to push Georgetown over the finish line.

Leave your witty (and non-witty) in-game comments here!

HOYA SAXA!