This afternoon, your Georgetown Hoyas (5-15, 0-9) traveled west to Cincinnati, OH for a visit with the top dog of the BIG EAST, the Xavier Musketeers (16-4, 8-1). The Musketeers were hungry to get back on track after their undefeated conference record was spoiled by the DePaul Blue Demons in a big upset earlier in the week. In their first meeting back in December, the Musketeers bested the Hoyas 102-89, as the defensive side of the game escaped both teams. In yet another shootout this afternoon, Primo Spears had nearly a perfect game, but the Musketeers were too much for Georgetown, and handed the Hoyas their 29th straight BIG EAST regular season loss, 95-82.
Out of the gate, Xavier executed a routine layup before getting a turnover and another bucket, triggering a Georgetown timeout only 1 minute into the action, which Ewing used to wake up his starting five of Primo Spears, Jordan Riley (9PTS), Bryson Mozone (4PTS), Akok Akok (14PTS, 10REBS, 3BLKS), and Qudus Wahab (10PTS, 3 REBS) (Brandon Murray was out with a lower body injury). Spears and Akok responded with back-to-back triples, but the Xavier offense (and likely the lack of Hoyas defense) was too much in the early going and we headed into the first TV timeout with the Musketeers leading 14-7.
After the break, the Hoyas struggled to score the basketball, while Xavier seemingly had their way with the porous Georgetown defense. Primo Spears tried his best to keep the Hoyas from getting run out of the Cintas Center early, by knocking down several of his “our-offense-isn’t-working-so-I’ll-do-it-myself” mid range jumpers. Headed into the under 12 timeout, the Hoyas trailed 22-13, getting outscored 18-0 (!!) in the paint. I wasn’t alive when Ewing played at Georgetown, but I imagine John Thompson Jr. would be none too happy with that statistic.
The Hoyas refused to give up easily and showed fight, as the 3-balls started to fall for Jordan Riley, Wayne Bristol Jr., and Primo Spears, while the Georgetown defense finally started to produce some stops. Spears got the message that if Georgetown was to stay in this game, he needed to score. And score he did. At the 9-minute mark, he had 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting (the rest of the team had 10) to get the game tied at 24 and forcing Xavier head coach, Sean Miller, to burn his first timeout.
After the timeout, the Musketeers started to figure it out offensively, jumping into a 7-0 run before Wahab tallied his first basket of the game with a nice hook shot over the Xavier center, Jack Nunge (7PTS, 9REBS). Although the Georgetown defense continued to lack any sort of teeth, the offense again did the heavy lifting (if you watch Hoyas basketball regularly, this should not come as a surprise).
In the mic’d-up huddle, Ewing emphasized the need for better shots, but other than a wide-open reserve jam by Akok Akok on a busted play, nothing looked easy for Georgetown's offense, as it felt like every Georgetown attempt was heavily contested. Headed into the under 4 timeout, Xavier lead 35-38.
Out of the timeout, Georgetown ran one of the best offensive sets I have seen them execute all year (this is not sarcasm) with Mozone flushing a wide-open three from the top of the key to tie the game at 38.
For 90% of the first half, the basketball was controlled and fluid, but with 2 minutes left, chaos broke out as both teams committed head-scratching turnovers and couldn’t hit the ocean if they were on the beach: airballs, bricks, and wild shots off the glass. The end of the half interrupted the helter-skelter with Xavier leading 45-39, as the Musketeers won the last few minutes of chaos.
In the first half, Primo did the lion’s share of the scoring with 17 of Georgetown's 38 points, and no other Hoya in double figures, while Xavier outscored Georgetown 32-6 (!!) in the paint and scored 19 points off 10 Hoya turnovers.
In the first possession after the half, Primo and Wahab teamed up to convert a textbook pick and roll to get the scoring started, and then Primo picked up right where he left off, hitting what felt like his 700th mid-range jumper of the afternoon. Xavier responded with a little run lead by Xavier freshman guard, Colby Jones (20PTS), and veteran forward, Zack Freemantle (30PTS, 11REBS).
The next offensive possession felt huge with the Hoyas down 9 because things tend to go sideways quickly for Georgetown in the second half, and we went to ol’ reliable: Mr. Primo Spears, who nailed a step back three with a hand in his face. He. Could. Not. Miss: 24 points, shooting 56% from the field, with 14 minutes left in the game and the Hoyas still facing a 55-63 deficit.
Over the next 5 minutes, the scoring went back and forth with Xavier maintaining a 7-10 point lead before the inevitable happened, just in a different way this time. Primo was still launching the basketball whenever he had a cubic inch of space between him and his defender, but on one particular attempt, he released a three-pointer, fell to the deck after what looked like a heavily contested shot (with a little contact in my opinion), and was called for FLOP. To give some perspective on what seemed like a ridiculous call, the color commentator mentioned that he had never seen a flop called before. This is a relatively new rule, and it resulted in a technical foul, which Xavier took advantage of and finished off with a Freemantle three to, all of a sudden, give the Musketeers a 76-64 lead with 8:30 left.
The chances were slim to start with, but the flop-technical really buried the Hoyas, as the Musketeers continued to pour it on, extending the lead to 18 just 2 minutes later, forcing Ewing to use his last timeout with 6:30 left in the game.
Georgetown continued to battle, but the Musketeers and the 18-point deficit were too much. The Hoyas followed the script to a T this afternoon and fell 95-82. Georgetown was outscored in the paint 52-20 by the Musketeers and lost the points-off-turnovers battle 25-5. The Hoyas gave up 11 offensive rebounds in the second half.
Georgetown’s defense continues to be a huge problem, and what is even more discouraging is losing by 13, given that Primo Spears had what was nearly a perfect game. I have been critical of Primo in the past because he gets out of control sometimes, but he had a MONSTER game today: 37PTS (50% FG) and 11 ASTS (6 turnovers).
Georgetown squares off against the red-hot DePaul Blue Demons on Tuesday at 7:00PM back in the District, in what may be their statistically best chance for a Big East regular season win in 2 years.