Game 25: (8) Georgetown Hoyas (12-12) vs (2) Creighton (20-7)
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: Saturday 6:30 pm
Series: Bluejays lead 10-8
BET History: Georgetown won the only meeting in the 2015 quarterfinals
Last meeting: The teams split this season with each winning on the road.
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson & Jim Jackson)
Radio: The Team 980, Radio.com (Rich Chvotkin, 47th season)
KenPom Ranking: Creighton 10, Georgetown 68
KenPom Projection: Creighton 77, Georgetown 69 (76 percent)
Line: Creighton -8.5, 143.5 o/u
Georgetown has done the unthinkable this week and is 40 minutes away from cutting down the nets for a record 8th time in the BIG EAST Championship.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. This is real life people.
With all my focus during the offseason of seeing Georgetown make it to Friday Night at the Garden, I never really gave this Championship scenario all that much thought but here we are just the same.
I mentioned yesterday how Georgetown keeps checking off boxes during this run and that obviously continued last night. The Hoyas have made the Championship Game for the first time since 2010 and became the third school in league history to make it this far under three different coaches. And, oh, that elusive 3-game winning streak against conference foes? Yeah. Mission accomplished there.
There are more boxes that can be checked but we’ll wait until later tonight or tomorrow morning to get into them.
Last night in taking down favored Seton Hall in the semis, the Hoyas got out to a good start and led most of the way which was a pleasant sight to see. In fact Georgetown only trailed for just a little bit over a minute of game time even though it was tight throughout.
During this run pretty much everyone has stepped up. Jamorko Pickett was great on both ends last night as he shut down one of the BIG EAST Players of the Year in Sandro Mamukelashvili. Chudier Bile had the go-ahead 3-point play and was a ridiculous +21 in his 28 minutes. The next best mark was Pickett at +9.
Jahvon Blair has settled into his role off the bench and has scored 43 points as a super sub, microwave type guy. Grad transfer Donald Carey has provided a calming influence and made one of the bigger shots of the week that might get overlooked as his 4-point play stopped the bleeding early as Georgetown trailed 9-0 right out of the gates against top seed Villanova. Qudus Wahab has dominated down low while drawing big praise from Patrick Ewing and Dante Harris has, well, what can you even say. I’ll start with this. The freshman point guard has made the big shots at the right time, drilled the pressure free throws, split the full court press, and successfully driven to the hoop all while keeping a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Timothy Ighoefe is +18 in his minutes off the bench and Ewing has gotten good, solid minutes from freshmen Collin Holloway and Jamari Sibley in limited time.
All of which leads me to say that somehow, someway, Georgetown has become a very deep team with many different players capable of beating an opponent on any given outing. Now they just need one more night to complete what’s already been one of the most surprising season of Georgetown basketball in forever.
CREIGHTON PT. 3
Georgetown’s biggest win of the season until this week was the Feb. 3 victory at No. 15 Creighton. Even though the Hoyas had beaten Providence at home in their first game in three weeks, the win in Omaha was a ‘holy hell’ moment that gave everyone pause in a different, good way.
Blair and Pickett played like all-league players, Bile had his coming out party, Wahab was dominant and Ighoefe had the crazy line of being +19 in just seven minutes. They Hoyas made 10s and got to the line 24 times while turning it over a very - for them at least - manageable 13 times.
Less than a week later it was completely a different story on Georgetown’s campus.
When you think of Doug McDermott - at least basketball wise - and his Bluejays teams you think of great offense. It’s the movement, and the freedom. So with all that being said and great offensive weapons at his disposal like Marcus Zegarowski, Denzel Mahoney, Mitch Ballock, and Christian Bishop, Creigton held Georgetown to a Ewing era low in points (48) on just 28 % shooting from the field.
The Hoyas kept chucking up 3s while being dominated down low (38-12). Georgetown didn’t help things by turning it over 24 times - a season worst in league play.
The part that hurt the most is that it was a very winnable game as Creighton wasn’t exactly light outs in scoring 63 on 44 % shooting while also turning it over 17 times. This loss also came right on the heels of playing toe-to-toe in a loss at No. 3 Villanova two days earlier.
So now that Ewing and his staff and players have seen from Creighton’s defense in the second game, where will the adjustments come from?
Just a few more hours and we’ll all find out!
NEW LOOK HOYAS
There are a lot of different ways to look at Georgetown’s 9-4 record since returning from the pause. Obviously if you want to point towards a single player, it’s Bile. No question there as his presence has made a world of difference on both ends of the court.
But for me it’s how Ewing has found a way to win that’s more like what we are used to in college basketball. Until recently the Hoyas have had little shot at winning if they failed to get to 80 points. Georgetown is 13-39 under Ewing when scoring less than 80. That’s a 25 % winning percentage and clearly not a recipe for success.
But guess what? The trend is changing and it’s for the good. Seven of those 13 wins have come since the pause which includes all three this week. Just look as far as last night for proof. Beating Seton Hall 66-58 in the semis just wasn't a score line Georgetown was capable of in the past few seasons. In fact it’s the fewest points scored under Ewing in a win over a BIG EAST foe and came two days after the Hoyas matched a Ewing low point total in easily getting past Marquette 68-49 in the first round.
This is how you win in college basketball and it’s now happening at Georgetown again.
IT’S THE FREE THROWS, MAN
The new formula for success is Georgetown becoming more balanced between free throws and letting those 3-pointers fly. It’s been night and day since the loss to Creighton. Before the second Creighton game the Hoyas had attempted more 3s than FTs in all but two games and three times in that span Georgetown had taken less than 10 FTs.
Since the Hoyas have attempted more FTs than 3s seven times and in their win over Butler on Feb. 13 they attempted 22 of each. They Hoyas are 6-2 in those games with both losses coming against UConn.
What’s one consistent during this week’s run? Georgetown has attempted more FTs than 3s in all three wins.
Who’s getting to the line you ask? Well Wahab leads the team in attempts while Bile is right there in second just ahead of Pickett and Blair despite being sixth on the team in minutes.
THIS WILL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is the last Georgetown to player to be named all-tournament team and that will surely change tonight. The real question is how many Hoyas will make it as four players (Wahab, Harris, Blair, & Pickett have given themselves a chance but anything can happen with a big Saturday night). The last time multiple Hoyas made it was in 2008 when both Roy Hibbert and Jessie Sapp did so. If you want to get greedy and dream of three, you’d have to go back to Georgetown’s last Championship team - Jeff Green, DaJuan Summers, and Hibbert were all represented.
Hoyas 72, Creighton 69
The week of our lives ends for the good while the season continues.
Leave your witty (and non-witty) in-game comments here!