81 seconds. 81 seconds was all Xavier led for in this game. The Georgetown Hoyas came up just 81 seconds short of a massive road upset against a highly-touted Xavier Musketeers team. There are no moral victories except when there have to be, and there was certainly something to the way Georgetown competed and executed in this one.
Lots to take away. Let’s dive in
Supreme Cook - B
13pts, 5-6 83% FG, 3-3 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 18 MIN
Apparently, my grade for Supreme against UConn touched a nerve with a few folks despite my caveat that he had many positives and negatives. He’s a tricky player to grade because his effort is almost always A+, but he has limits, as any player does. But because he plays an elevated role on this team, his flaws get amplified more than others. He really has no place to hide. That said, he’s clearly playing his best basketball of the year over the past few games. There were still some mistakes, particularly on the defensive end, that I found frustrating. He’s been looking more comfortable offensively and finishing better at the rim. He had a couple of nice post possessions in this one. His foul trouble limited his minutes, and I think he’s more effective in the 20-25-minute range. Part of that is because of how physically he plays, which is hard to keep up over 30 minutes. Every time you look, he is in a tussle with an opponent. He frankly seems exhausting to play against. It’s hard to ask him to be less physical because that’s so integral to his game, so I think the answer is just to try and limit his minutes a little.
Dontrez Styles - B+
14pts, 6-14 42% FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 10 REB, 1 TO, 40 MIN
14 shots for Trez is what I’d like to see. A big part of that is about the pace of the game. This is the second-fastest pace for a Hoyas game this season at 75.9 possession per 40 minutes. In general, Georgetown has been better in faster-paced games this year. There’s a limit to that, but I think part of the benefit of the faster pace is getting guys like Styles more shots. I’d like to see them find some different actions for Trez. Cooley’s offense does a good job of running guys off screens, but Dontrez has not been that effective at catching and shooting off screens. He’s been better off cuts and pick-and-roll actions, as well as on the offensive board, where he was a monster again. This was another good Trez game, so no huge complaints, but I’d like to see them get him into different actions.
Ismael Massoud - D+
9pts, 3-8 37% FG, 3-6 50% 3PT, 0 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 0 TO, 19 MIN
The offense was a little better. The defense was not. I am fine with him in the 15-20 minute range right now. Zero rebounds are glaring, even if they are playing more zone. He needs to be more consistent in pick-and-pop action. He’s getting open threes out of that almost every time, and he’s probably around 50% on those. That’s OK, but those shots are so wide open he should be shooting closer to 60% or even 75% on those. Just focus on knocking down wide-open threes. That would help a lot.
Jayden Epps - B+
32pts, 9-19 47% FG, 3-5 60% 3PT, 11-11 FT, 2 REB, 11 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 4 TO, 38 MIN
That was another really good Jayden game and his first career double-double. I know people get nervous about the amount and type of shots he takes but if you can’t see the difference between him and some previous ball-dominant PGs we’ve had, I am not sure what to tell you. For the most part, Epps is taking shots because that’s what the offense is dictating. He certainly can take the occasional ill-advised shot, but I think you live with that because of how good a shooter he is and because he helps create space for other guys. He’s a talented offensive player who continues to shoot a high percentage. My barometer for him is his defense and I think he’s had a run of really good defense going back to the Seton Hall game. He was engaged and effective in this one again. He had a good sequence in the 2nd half that ended in a steal after a back-tap on a driver. That is a risky defensive play, but the part that stood out was what came before the steal. He did a nice job staying in front of his man, stopping the initial drive in transition. He had a good help-side position after his man gave up the ball and ran him off the three-point line when he got the ball back. Yes, he gambled a bit on the steal, but that was after 15 seconds of solid defensive intensity, and he had good help defense to help him out if he missed the steal. He has also shown he has pretty good hands defensively. He just missed on a layup with 40 seconds left that might have just been enough to ice the game. It was a good drive and a shot, albeit a contested one, that he typically makes. It just fell off the rim on this one, and Xavier got a dunk on the other end to take their final lead.
Jay Heath - C+
16pts, 4-16 25% FG, 4-8 50% 3PT, 4-5 FT, 6 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 40 MIN
Jay hit four in a row from three in the first half. That was fun. He was definitely feeling it, and Cooley kept going to him. I like him running off screens, and working in simple drive and replace actions with Epps. He has definitely been more effective offensively and defensively in the past few games. Despite grabbing six boards, he needs to be more active on the glass, especially when they are in zone. There were a couple of possessions where he wasn’t aggressive enough on the defensive glass, leading to a Xavier offensive board and open three. Despite his 50% shooting from behind the arc, he had some ugly-looking layups. I don’t have a suggestion for those besides just stopping doing that. He’s very streaky right now, which I guess he sort of always has been, but you’d love to get a more even offensive contribution from him.
Rowan Brumbraugh - NO GRADE
0pts, 3 REB, 1 ASTM, 3 MIN
Rowan has found himself out of the rotation for the most part in the last few games. And it’s hard to argue with that. He’s at an unsurprising stage of development for Freshman guards when the speed and competition increase, and it takes time for some guys to get comfortable. That, combined with Heath’s improved play, has made it tough for Rowan to see the floor. It looks to me that he is just struggling with the speed of the game right now. That’s not a huge surprise. There just isn’t enough of a margin of error for the Hoyas to weather the growing pains at the moment. He’ll need to find his spots to be impactful, and I think it comes down to taking quick and decisive action on the offensive end. They tried to get Rowan the ball on the block at one point, which I think is smart. He drew a foul, but that’s a good position to put him in.
Wayne Bristol Jr. - B-
2pts, 1-1 FG, 3 REB, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 21 MIN
Wayne is tough to grade because almost all his impact doesn’t appear in a box score. I thought he was solid in this game but didn’t have the same defensive impact as the past few games. He’s effective at the top of the 3-2 zone. He has a tendency to reach in on defense. He gets a couple of fouls called each game that are avoidable if he just avoids reaching.
Drew Fielder - B-
5pts, 2-3 66% FG, 1-2 50% 3PT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 16 MIN
Fielder has it. You can see him processing the game much higher than he was earlier in the year. He’s adapting really well to the pace of the game. He had a great series in the first half, knocking down another three. In the timeout, Sean Miller talked about making Fielder drive. Right after, he got the ball on the right wing and attacked the closeout from the defender, who took away the three. He had a nice backhanded layup finish. That’s the stuff that is going to make him really tough to guard. He had a pretty loud game despite only scoring 5 points. He had a few really nice blocks on the defensive end and a couple of rough defensive possessions. His defensive struggles are mostly about speed and physicality, which I think are things he will improve. He did have a bad foul on a three-point shooter, which was ticky-tack but one you can’t have. His feel on the defensive end and his rebounding have improved. He gave them some big minutes with Cook on the bench in foul trouble and almost had the dunk of the year on a one-handed put-back in the second half that he just came up short on.
Ryan Mutombo - NO GRADE
0pts, 1 REB, 3 MIN
Mutombo minutes! Nothing to write home about.
Coaching - B
The Hoyas were dialed in early for this one. They came out with high intensity and did a good job of maintaining that throughout the game. This felt like the team you expect Ed Cooley to put on the floor. The effort and intensity were there. They came up just short, but I think you have to take a lot of positives from this game. They were up 5 with three minutes left, and Cooley tried to slow the game down, which I think was the right call. They got good shots but just couldn’t get a stop on the other end. It ultimately came down to an Epps layup that just rimmed out and a dunk on the other end. If that Epps layup goes down, we are probably talking about the Hoyas’ best win of the year against a top-30 team. I actually think they got a pretty good shot on the final play. It looked like they were ready for the Epps double and had Heath in a position to get to the rim. He got a decent look at a layup, and Bristol almost tipped it in. Again, if one of those goes, this is a different result. My only gripe is I would probably like to see them go quicker on the last possession rather than hold for the last shot. In general, I think there is so much chaos in the college game that I’d rather they go quick and give themselves a chance to extend the game if they miss. Given they were on the road and the fact that they really couldn’t get a stop on defense, I get why you hold for the last shot. I just would prefer giving yourself an opportunity if you don’t make the shot.
Offense - B+
The offense was good enough to win this game. The defense was not. As I mentioned, this game’s pace was extremely fast, and both teams obviously had good shooting days. The Hoyas looked good on the offensive end of the floor. If a few more shots go down, they win this game, and they got plenty of good looks. Cooley did slow things down in the final four minutes, but they ran some nice action that got good looks. One nice free throw line jumper for Styles of a flex screen that he buried and then another that got him a good baseline jumper that he just missed.
Defense - C-
Coach said it in one of his huddles, “When they are going against our set defense, they have no chance.” I am not sure I would go that far, but I think their set defense was mostly good enough in this one. They struggled in transition D, which was pretty much the game. Xavier scored .895 points per possession on transition opportunities. Georgetown was at .875. However, Xavier had twice as many transition possessions, from 19 to Gtown’s 8. And those didn’t come off turnovers, as the Hoyas only had ten turnovers, which is not bad for them. It was just a matter of Xavier pushing the ball up the floor, even off makes, and Gtown not returning. I think it’s clear this team is overall more effective in zone, which I don’t think is what Cooley wants to play. He’s found a scheme that keeps his guys engaged, but zone will always have challenges. I think they just need to keep grinding on that end. They were almost good enough to get a win. Clean up a few things and you are there. The defense is about survival right now, as I think they lack the personnel to play the way Cooley would like to.
Next up - Butler
Go win this game! Butler comes into DC for the rematch after righting their ship against DePaul. The first game saw Butler comfortably beat Gtown, but that was the first conference game of the year and right in the middle of their three-in-six midwest road trip. This is a great opportunity for Gtown to win a big one before the game of the year in Providence. In my season preview, I predicted this as a tight loss. I think Gtown can win this game. If they clean up a few things but play mostly the way they did against Xavier, they’ll beat Butler.