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TRIPPIN’: Georgetown Loses 13th as Creighton Holds Off Late Run, 77-88

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Small-ball press helped narrow the gap, but it was too little too late

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoyas traveled to Omaha today for a Valentine’s Day matchup in the second leg of a back to back against the Creighton Blue Jays. In the first leg, Creighton came away with a 80-66 victory fueled by Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Hawkins combining for 52 points and 27 rebounds. The loss dropped the Hoyas to 6-17 and more notably, 0-12 in the Big East. In an attempt to stop the record breaking skid and slow down Creighton’s front court, Patrick Ewing deployed Malcolm Wilson as his starting center. It marked Wilson’s first start since the Marquette game on January 7th and meant Ryan Mutombo returned to the bench after not registering a single minute in the second half of Saturday’s game. Additionally, Kaiden Rice entered the starting lineup after scoring 40 points off the bench in his last two games.

Ewing’s main adjustment was switching Freshman wing Aminu Mohammed on to Ryan Hawkins and clogging the lane with weak side help in pick and roll but these paid no immediate dividends. Creighton scored 11 points before the first media timeout. But the Hoyas looked much crisper on offense and guards Dante Harris and Donald Carey saw their shots drop for a quick 9 points that kept the Hoyas even with the Blue Jays.

Time Ighoefe was the first sub for the Hoyas, further indicating Ewing’s lack of trust in Ryan Mutombo to guard Kalkbrenner and Creighton in the pick and roll. And of note, Kobe Clark checked in early for the Hoyas. They were his first real minutes and are probably an indication that Colin Holloway may be out of favor.

Even with the player rotation, Ewing struggled to find a group that functioned defensively. While the Hoyas scored at a decent pace early in the game and protected the rim from the alley oops that haunted them on Saturday, they couldn’t defend the three-point line. Disorganization cost them and despite playing hard for the majority of the half, Creighton made them pay for the kind of lull they’re becoming noted for. Georgetown ultimately limped into halftime trailing 48-31.

If you stuck around for the second half, I commend you. For a large majority of it, the Hoyas didn’t threaten to make it a game. But a string of full court pressure and timely half-court defense brought the Hoyas back to within 6 with less than 2 minutes to play. Freshmen Aminu Mohammed played admirably, contributing 27 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out but the effort was not enough.

Creighton eventually prevailed 88-77.

The Hoyas fall to 6-18 (0-13). Patrick Ewing still has not won a Big East game since defeating a sweet 16 bound Creighton in last year’s Big East Championship. A lot has changed in 11 months.