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Xavier v. Georgetown preview, matchups, and keys to the game

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Xavier comes into the nation's capital to try to avenge a loss against a Georgetown team struggling to stay in the NIT picture.

I hope you framed that last box score, Tre Campbell.
I hope you framed that last box score, Tre Campbell.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

To say this season has gone badly for Georgetown is somewhat akin to saying most barbecues go poorly for the pig. Widely regarded as one of the top 3 teams in the Big East preseason, an opening loss to Radford would set the tone for a campaign that has never really gotten off the ground. The lone bright spot in an otherwise unforgivingly bleak season for the Hoyas faithful was a 9 point victory at Cintas Center, since which Georgetown has lost 6 of 8. Now basically assured of missing the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd time in 3 seasons, talk has turned to the future of coach John Thompson III and whether he is the man to try and get the most out of next year's talented crop of returners and newcomers.

Which is not to say there is nothing left to play for this season. Last time Georgetown finished below .500 in conference play was 2009, when the Big East sent 7 teams to the tournament, 3 of which were 1 seeds. Holding serve against Xavier and Butler would be a lifeline for Georgetown, although a trip to Villanova still awaits, and anything can happen if a team hits their stride at MSG as Providence did two years ago. It has been a disaster of a season and time is running out for the Hoyas, but if they are to turn things around, this game will be one they must have.

Team Fingerprint:

On offense Georgetown is excellent from the line, shooting 76%. Other than that, things aren't so rosy. They aren't great from deep (35%) and are average (50%) inside the arc. What hurts the Hoyas is turning the ball over on almost 20% of their possessions and grabbing less than 30% of their misses. An elite shooting team could survive that and a decent shooting team could be better if they valued the ball. The Hoyas don't meet either of those criteria.

On defense it's all about the blocked shot. Georgetown blocks 12.5% of the shots their opponent puts up. That's good for 42nd in the nation and directly contributes to teams shooting only 42% inside the arc against the Hoyas. It also contributes to teams scoring 28% of their points from the line against JTII's team. That's a lot, as is the amount of fouls that the Hoyas commit per game. It's a fair bet that Peak, Hayes, Govan, Derrickson, and Kaleb Johnson will all be in foul trouble if they get more than 20 minutes. Georgetown is solid against the three pointer, but allows a lot of offensive rebounds and doesn't turn teams over. Again, some of the pieces are there, but the flaws overpower them.

Starters

Starting matchups
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Point Guard Edmond Sumner
Senior Class Freshman
6'3", 215 Measurements 6'5", 183
16.2/3.3/4.3 Game Line 10.9/3.2/3.2
.413/.348/.798 Shooting Line .420/.345/.709
DSR got off to a slow start to the year, but he has played a bit better in conference play. Maybe no Big East team leans as heavily on a single player, as DSR leads the league in minutes percentage and is eighth in usage rate. He can score at all three levels, is solid in ball protection and distribution, and is a tough defender despite being only average athletically. I like DSR's game.
Tre Campbell Shooting Guard Myles Davis
Sophomore Class Junior
6'2", 170 Measurements 6'2", 188
3.6/1.5/1.6 Game Line 10.7/3.6/4.0
.295/.314/.750 Shooting Line .398/.379/.879
Campbell, you might recall, had 21 on 7-9/5-7/2-2 shooting against Xavier at Cintas. His previous season high was 12 against St. John's, and his previous career high was 14 against Marquette in OT last year. Even after he single-handedly defeated the Muskies in January, the smart play is to walk away from him when he has the ball and trust that he won't have the game of his life again.
Reggie Cameron Small Forward Remy Abell
Junior Class Senior
6'7", 225 Measurements 6'4", 185
6.2/2.3/1.2 Game Line 6.1/1.3/1.7
.414/.367/.778 Shooting Line .403/.358/.750
Cameron is mostly a catch-and-shoot guy, and more than 70% of his shots come from behind the arc. He's only shooting 32.7% from deep in conference play after shooting 41.4% in non-conference. He's not much for rebounding or ball distribution, but his size makes him an occasionally difficult matchup.
Isaac Copeland Power Forward Trevon Bluiett
Sophomore Class Sophomore
6'9", 220 Measurements 6'6", 215
10.5/5.0/2.0 Game Line 15.3/6.6/2.3
.414/.290/.784 Shooting Line .415/.383/.781
Copeland is very effective at the rim and boasts a decent mid-range game, but he still insists on taking 42% of his field goal attempts from behind the arc. He's a miserable three-point shooter, and his passion for chucking them up there really erodes his efficiency as a player. He's a decent defensive rebounder, but he hits the offensive glass like Dee Davis. Also, it's neither here nor there, but this dude is super gangly.
Jessie Govan Center Jalen Reynolds
Freshman Class Junior
6'10", 270 Measurements 6'10", 238
7.4/3.9/0.8 Game Line 9.7/6.9/0.8
.496/.520/.855 Shooting Line .500/.333/.624
Govan is monstrous. He's also very talented, boasting a good post game, respectable mid-range arsenal, and 13-25 mark from deep on the year that demonstrates you have to at least check him at the arc. He's an asset on the defensive end primarily as a rim protector and rebounder, but he grabs his share of steals as well. He scored 13 on Xavier last time these two met and is coming off of a 27-point outburst against Seton Hall.

Reserves

John Thompson III started 6'5", sophomore guard LJ Peak in every non-conference game and then proceeded to bring him off the bench in every conference game so far. Peak is getting about 10 seconds more of playing time per game off the bench than he did as a starter. Anyway, Peak is really good, averaging 11.4/3.4/1.5 on .474/.386/.755 shooting and posting an ORtg of 110 in conference play. He rarely works from the mid-range; if he's not getting all the way to the tin, he prefers to pull from beyond the arc.

Georgetown's normal starting center Bradley Hayes is out indefinitely after needing surgery for a hand injury he suffered in practice, so the Hoyas bench is pretty thin. Freshman Marcus Derrickson is a 6'7" forward who gets after it pretty well on the glass at both ends. He averages 6.5/4.7/1.2 on .383/.375/.913 shooting and spends most of his time hunting catch-and-shoot chances behind the arc, having taken 80 threes against just 48 twos on the year. Finally, Kaleb Johnson is a 6'6" wing who gets about 11 minutes per game, but he may be conscripted into increased duties as the depth chart reshuffles. He's not much of a rebounder, rarely shoots, and commits 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes.

Three Keys

Assume lightning will not strike twice- Tre Campbell was the story last time for Georgetown, as he went for 21 points and kept Xavier's zone from being effective with his 5-7 three point shooting. Since then, Campbell is 2-17 from deep and has scored 13 points over the interveining 8 games. Xavier must resist the temptation to overcimmit to Campbell, remembering his success last time, until he proves he can get hot from outside again.

Pound the post- Bradley Hayes is out injured, leaving Jessie Govan and Trey Mourning as the lone options for Georgetown in the post, two players whose foul rates make Jalen Reynolds look like a shrinking violet. Copeland will have trouble sliding over if called upon to do so due to his weight disadvantage, and no one else is over 6'7". If X can get Govan in foul trouble, Georgetown will have real problems coping with Xavier's depth in the post.

Grab the game early- Last time Xavier went on the road to a team that plays in an actual gym and needed to win the game to keep their tournament hopes alive, Creighton straight up hammered them for the first 8 minutes. Georgetown's fans are restless and dissatisfied with this season, the Hoyas are notorious for getting off to terrible starts this year, and Xavier came out of the gates charging against Providence. If X can grab the advantage early, they may well bury this game before the home crowd has a chance to make any noise.