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LINKS: Xavier “Must Not Lose” to Hoyas in Season Finale

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As potential spoilers, Georgetown has last chance for conference win

Xavier v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Georgetown Hoyas (6-23, 0-18) are undefeated against Xavier Musketeers this season—the only BIG EAST team to not hand the Hoyas two losses. Xavier (17-12, 7-11) is in a five-game skid since beating No. 24 UConn on February 11th. Xavier needs to beat Georgetown on Saturday night, at 7PM on FS1, to maintain any hopes of a postseason. It’s a “must not lose” situation.

Of course, as surmised from the record, Georgetown has not yet played Xavier as their first game was cancelled for COVID and the BIG EAST’s “no back-to-back weeks with three games” rule made rescheduling impossible. Georgetown can play spoilers to Xavier, as well as steal their first win.

So here we are with Georgetown winless, and Patrick Ewing with the support of the Athletic Department, about to take on a reeling Xavier squad in a season finale. Travis Steele and the Muskies have not yet seen the Blue and Gray first-hand this year, so maybe the Hoyas have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can Georgetown earn their first win and put the nail in the coffin for Xavier’s season or will the Musketeers fight back on their Senior Night?

Here are the links:

Xavier Hosts Georgetown For Senior Night At Cintas Center On Saturday | GoXavier.com

The Xavier University Musketeers host the Georgetown University Hoyas on Saturday night in the regular season finale at 7 p.m. at Cintas Center. Saturday is Senior Night and Xavier will honor five senior players (Nate Johnson and Paul Scruggs, and walk-ons Spencer Cody, Ramon Singh and Zak Swetye) and four senior managers (Evan Beretta, Andrew Lieb, Brendan Ross and Jack Westendorf) in pregame ceremonies. Fans are being asked to be in their seats for the pregame festivities at 6:40 p.m.

Xavier, 17-12 overall and 7-11 in the BIG EAST Conference, will only play Georgetown once in this regular season. XU’s Jan. 4 game vs. GU in Washington was cancelled due to Covid-related issues in the Hoyas’ program. Georgetown is the only BIG EAST team that Xavier will not play twice.

Xavier’s regular-season finale against Georgetown Saturday is a must-win | Cincinnati Enquirer (Adam Baum)

There’s not much left to say, other than Xavier’s men’s basketball team has its final regular-season game on Saturday (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1) at Cintas Center against a Georgetown team that has yet to win a Big East Conference game all season, and it’s a game the Musketeers have to win.

A loss would be Xavier’s sixth in a row and it would almost certainly leave the Musketeers outside the NCAA Tournament field heading into next week’s Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

A win would offer a small sprinkle of hope for a team that’s postseason life is hanging together by a weathered thread.

Xavier falls at St. John’s, dropping its fifth straight | Cincinnati Enquirer (Adam Baum)

“What really hurt us was giving up threes,” said Xavier head coach Travis Steele. “We weren’t there on the catch on a couple of really good shooters.”

One of those shooters Xavier left open was Tareq Coburn, who averages 4.8 points per game and went for 20 against the Musketeers on Wednesday with five 3-pointers.

“You can’t do that against some really good shooters like that,” said Steele. “You gotta be there on the catch. You gotta take them out of their rhythm.”

The other key spot came after Xavier made a run to get back in the game and cut the lead down to 52-49 with 8:37 left.

Over the next four minutes, though, St. John’s went on an 18-6 run and took complete control of the game.

It was a stretch where St. John’s really got moving in transition off a lot of Xavier’s missed shots and Xavier didn’t have much of an answer for the zone defense St. John’s threw at them.

A series of false dawns | Banners on the Parkway

There are a lot of ways to be bad at basketball, though, and Xavier has set out exploring them in their 11 losses this season. You want a complete lack of defense? They’ve allowed 1.17 PPP or more in three of their last four losses. Looking for something a little more nuanced? They held Seton Hall to 41% shooting in their first meeting but allowed an OReb% of 41.5%. Into self-immolation? They held Nova to their worst EFG% of the year but managed to shoot 18-55 (32.7%) to lose a close one.

Perhaps most frustratingly, every time it has looked like they were building momentum, the rug has been ripped from under them. They hit conference play 10-1 and then thumped a good Marquette squad, then they lost to Nova and had to wait almost three weeks for another game due to covid in other teams. They stormed by Creighton behind a monstrous second half, then needed a last-second stop to beat DePaul before losing two straight. They outplayed Seton Hall in the second half of a close loss and rode that energy past UConn, then turned around and got run off the Cintas floor by St. John’s.

Most recently, they had a shot in the air to win at Providence before ultimately losing in three overtimes to the eventual conference champs. They then translated that to absolutely nothing home to Seton Hall, getting thoroughly punked in a game that had boos raining down from the portions of the home crowd that had bothered to stay.