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Xavier v. Georgetown: Preview, matchups, and keys to the game

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Xavier's newest rival returns to town with, as always, DSR carrying the load. Can Xavier overpower the Hoyas inside and take care of the ball well enough to win?

"Beats me."
"Beats me."
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Xavier hasn't been in the Big East or playing these teams long enough to build up genuine antipathy towards any of them. That's an abrupt way to start a preview to a game, but it's mostly the truth. As the Big East settles in with the incredible feature of true round robin play, the newcomers will build the kind of rivalries that make conferences great and can occasionally even get mid-major school from the AAC on ESPN. For now, though, Xavier carries into conference play only the one carryover rival, Butler and that absurd barn they insist on mucking out every Saturday to play basketball in.

Georgetown represents a counterpoint to that argument. In just three seasons in the conference, the Musketeers and the Hoyas have engaged in some classic games. Some of those were good natured, others were less so. Xavier has pounded Georgetown on New Year's Eve, erased a 17 point second half deficit (my favorite Big East game), and knocked the Hoyas out of the conference tournament since joining the conference. If Georgetown is the true old blood of the Big East, Xavier is the chippy newcomer who is in no way cowed by the history. This is a burgeoning rivalry.

Team Fingerprint:

This is the worst offense that Georgetown has put on the court since the last season of the Craig Esherick era. They excel at getting to the line and finishing once they are there, but they don't do anything else well. That's not an exaggeration, their 88th in the nation in EFG is the next highest meaningful ranking they have. The Hoyas don't take care of the ball well and they don't get after it on the offensive glass. You'll see below in the matchups that Georgetown's most efficient players are not the ones with the highest usage rate. Whether that is a fluke or just bad coaching is probably in the eye of the beholder.

Defense is another story. While Georgetown may not be quite elite, they are very good. The Hoyas are vulnerable to the three and they put teams on the line too much, but only ten teams in the nation are better inside the arc. Georgetown both blocks a lot of shots and alters a lot more. All that blocking and jumping leaves them open to some offensive rebounding opportunities, but that's clearly a risk they are willing to take in order to reject more than 12% of all opponent's attempts.

Starters:

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Point Guard Myles Davis
Senior Class Junior
6'3" 215 Measurements 6'2", 188
16.2/3.2/4.2 Game Line 10.8/3.4/3.6
.428/.347/.788 Shooting Line .396/.392/.935
As DSR goes, so goes Georgetown. Since December 1, in games where his Ortg is 100 or above, they are 8-0, including all 4 conference wins. When it is below that, they are 1-4. He has been shooting the lights out from three point range the past couple of weeks, but has to find it on his own because he spends 90% of the game on the ball.
Tre Campbell Shooting Guard Remy Abell
Sophomore Class Senior
6'2". 170 Measurements 6'4", 185
3.5/1.6/1.3 Game Line 7.8/1.5/2.3
.306/.333/.732 Shooting Line .450/.382/.744
Campbell took over a starting role from LJ Peak at the start of conference play, but has only gotten more minutes than Peak once. Campbell is basically a better distributing version of LAJ who is forced by circumstances to shoot more. He does not shoot often, most likely because he doesn't shoot well. He is a solid-ish distributor, but is coming off 14 minutes of 0 ORtg against Nova.
Reggie Cameron Small Forward JP Macura
Junior Class Sophomore
6'7", 225 Measurements 6'5", 205
7.1/2.6/0.9 Game Line 8.9/2.5/2.1
.448/.400/.800 Shooting Line .472/.298/.787
Cameron has Georgetown's highest Ortg, but only uses 16% of their possessions, which is more than only Remy and LAJ on X. Despite being 6'7", he prefers to hang around the perimeter and finds his shots out there, which he knocks down at a rate that merits doing so. Cameron has only started the last two games in place of Marcus Derrickson, but he has efficiently gotten into double digits both times.
Isaac Copeland Power Forward Trevon Bluiett
Sophomore Class Sophomore
6'9", 220 Measurements 6'6", 215
11.2/5.1/2.1 Game Line 15.3/6.7/2.1
.435/.338/.778 Shooting Line .413/.392/.806
Copeland comes in 4 for his last 17 from three, which is an issue for a player whose effectiveness is so dependent on him hitting his outside shots. Despite his size advantage, Copeland is going to give up a lot to Bluiett on the glass, but is the Hoyas second leading scorer despite a usage rate of just 18.
Bradley Hayes Center Jalen Reynolds
Senior Class Junior
7'0", 275 Measurements 6'10", 238
8.5/6.7/1.3 Game Line 9.6/6.7/0.6
.525/.000/.628 Shooting Line .517/.500/.661
Hayes has struggled mightily to keep himself on the floor during Big East play, racking up an enormous rate of 8.5 fouls per 40 minutes. It hasn't quite gone to plan for him offensively when he is on the court, shooting on a quarter of possessions despite a 45% clip from the field in conference play. What he does do is block shots and rebound opponent's misses. Hayes gets the ball back for the Hoyas a lot through those two things, he just tends to waste it if he sees in on offense.

Reserves

Georgetown has some fairly important pieces coming off the bench for them, beginning with LJ Peak. Peak's numbers are limited by the fact he gets about 23 minutes a game because he fouls faster than Jalen, but he still gets 9.5/2.7/1.4 with a tidy shooting line of .441/.342/.761. When peak is good, he does things like score 17 points on 4 field goal attempts against DePaul. When he is bad he commits 4 fouls in 9 minutes and doesn't score against St. John's. He is also in the middle of those two sometimes. Next up is freshman Marcus Derrickson who had been starting but has been limited to 10 total minutes the last two games by a knee injury. Derrickson has been pretty up and down this season, but averages a line of 7.0/4.3/1.2 and is a dangerous outside shooter with a .434 mark from deep.

Down low is 6'10" freshman Jesse Govan who gets 7.1/4.4/0.7, but has come on strong in conference play. He blocks shots better than Hayes and gets defensive rebounds slightly worse than him, but is nowhere near as effective on the offensive glass. However, he does posses the confidence and ability to step outside from time to time as evidenced by his 8-15 mark from deep. The last regular off the bench is another freshman in 6'6" wing Kaleb Johnson, who has had a pair of double digit scoring performances in Georgetown losses this season. The rest of the time, he tends not to shoot that often, and is one of the Hoyas more effective players in getting into passing lanes and crashing the offensive boards.

Three Keys:

- Get Jalen untracked: Xavier's big man is now not even playing 50% of the available minutes and is having his least efficient offensive year as a Musketeer. Xavier needs Jalen to compete inside with a team that is going to be swarming after every shot. Reynolds will have opportunities to get second chance points by the boatload and create his own opportunities by being patient and getting to the line. This would be a great game for Jalen to come back up big.

- Take care of the ball: Georgetown doesn't create a great many turnovers, but Xavier loves to throw away possessions. Taking a team with an already good defense and making it easier on them isn't exactly a recipe for success. The Hoyas are 6-1 when they force turnovers at a rate over Xavier's current 18.6%. The Musketeers will be tempting fate if they let their turnover rate get that high.

- Run people at DSR: Making DSR earn every bucket in every minute he plays is going to be crucial. There is no simpler way to put it than to say he carries Georgetown. He's going to play at least 34 minutes in this game. In games Georgetown forces him to play 36 minutes or more, they are only 4-4. Xavier has the guard depth to be in attack mode from the word go and use a combination of Remy Abell, Myles Davis, Edmond Sumner, and LAJ (and maybe even the defensive stylings of Jonathan Paul Macura) to keep DSR constant faced with fresh legs. He's going to get his, make him earn it.