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

After dropping three straight to good competition, Xavier has a chance to get right at home against Georgetown.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Georgetown
I like having a reason to use this picture.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest problems in the nation’s capital right now is ineffective, unqualified leadership. Even people who once supported the man at the top are now wondering what they saw; only the most unquestioning supporters are still vocally in his corner. Most of the rest of the concerned parties are just hoping he fails so quickly and convincingly that he can be replaced before he burns the whole thing down.

Enough about JTIII though.

Georgetown fans have been feeling for a while now the way Xavier fans have felt for the past three games. It feels like a lot of what X has built is slipping away, but the reality is that the Muskies are 13-5 and there is plenty of season left. A win here would be the first step in the right direction for Xavier; it’s going to take a lot more than one game to cure what ails Georgetown.

Team fingerprint

Let’s start on the offensive end. Georgetown is 11th in the nation in free throw rate, which is obviously excellent. They’re also 33rd in FT%, also very good. Unfortunately, they’re only mediocre at shooting and offensive rebounding, and they’re below average in ball security. They’re a decent three-point shooting team, but they rarely lift from deep. Put it all together and you have a so-so offense that is going to struggle in games in which it doesn’t get a friendly whistle.

The defense is solid based largely on its ability to force contested shots. They’re 52nd in the nation in EFG% defense, doing better defending inside the arc than from beyond it. Their defense is let down by free possessions; they’re below average at forcing turnovers and down right bad on the defensive glass.

Starters

Starting matchups
Jagan Mosely Point Guard Edmond Sumner
Freshman Class Sophomore
6'3", 205 Measurements 6'6", 186
5.3/2.1/2.6 Game line 15.4/4.4/4.7
.424/.320/.783 Shooting line .481/.282/.735
Mosely's job is to get the ball to the other guys on his team without giving it to the other team. He's okay at it. He dropped 20/4/2 on Butler a couple of weeks back thanks to being able to get into the lane on them; he's largely more part of the process than the product on offense for Georgetown.
Rodney Pryor Shooting Guard JP Macura
Senior Class Junior
6'5", 205 Measurements 6'5", 203
17.7/4.9/1.1 Game line 14.2/4.1/2.3
.498/.425/.767 Shooting line .418/.351/.841
A grad transfer from Robert Morris, Pryor is an unrepentant gunner. He's looking to score when he has the ball, and that's all he wants to do. He doesn't turn it over much and doesn't assist hardly at all. He leads the team in EFG% and shots% and is ninth in assist rate.
LJ Peak Small Forward Malcom Bernard
Junior Class Senior
6'5", 215 Measurements 6'6", 202
16.1/4.3/3.3 Game line 6/4.1/1.6
.451/.361/.836 Shooting line .416/.388/.577
Peak is a relentless slasher, nicely counterpointing Pryor's tendency to hang out beyond the arc. Half of his shots come at the rim, where he's effective in both finishing and getting to the line. He's also solid in distribution, leading the team in assists and sitting second in assist rate.
Marcus Derrickson Power Forward Trevon Bluiett
Sophomore Class Junior
6'7", 250 Measurements 6'6", 215
9.5/4.7/1.7 Game line 16.8/5.8/2.2
.439/.414/.923 Shooting line .404/.315/.779
Built like Tyrique Jones, rebounds like Malcolm Bernard. Derrickson is a heck of a shooter, which is probably what draws him away from the rim so much. More than half his shot attempts from beyond the arc, and he's cash from the line. Weirdly, he also fouls a lot.
Bradley Hayes Center RaShid Gaston
Senior Class Senior
7'0", 275 Measurements 6'9", 239
5.1/5.1/0.9 Game line 7.5/6.9/0.6
.508/.000/.385 Shooting line .570/.000/.467
Is it possible to be huge and bad at basketball? Apparently. Hayes is a solid finisher but takes almost half his shots from the mid range. Combine that with no ball distribution skills and a miserable touch from the line and you have a below average offensive player. He's also only a mediocre rebounder and not a great shot blocker.

Reserves

Sophomore Jessie Govan is the biggest bench piece for Georgetown. He’s a 6’10”, 270-pound center is posting a tidy 9.2/5.3/1.3 line on .516/.500/.685 shooting. He’s a good scorer from the post and mid-range and is 8-16 from deep. He’s also a monster on the defensive glass.

And that’s about it, honestly. Xavier bane Tre Campbell and JuCo transfer Jonathan Mulmore are each averaging 3.8 PPG and shooting .333 from deep. Junior big man Akoy Agau goes for 4.6/3.8/0.9 on .489/.111/.891 and is a solid rebounder at both ends. Georgetown gets a lot of minutes off the bench, but it’s mostly just whichever of Govan and Hayes doesn’t start and then a mish-mash of warm bodies.

Three questions:

-How does Xavier move on from Myles? Davis is - as I’m sure you heard - officially gone from the team. He never got much going in his three games this year, but his potential contribution had been hanging over the team all season. Now it’s not going to happen; who is going to step up to make up the gap between what Xavier anticipated having and what they can actually put on the floor?

-Should Xavier bother with the arc? The Muskies are 262nd in the nation with a team 32.6% success rate from deep. Meanwhile, they’re taking an almost exactly average percentage of their attempts from there. Why?

-Is Georgetown a threat? The Hoyas are 1-5 in the Big East, with their only win coming at home against St. John’s. The last time they beat a top 100 team was December 17th. Xavier will be home and coming off a long losing streak. This is a game to get right with, right?

Three keys:

-Get to the line. Xavier beat Georgetown at Georgetown largely on the back of going 29-38 from the line. Ed in particular was irrepressible, putting up a nice little 14-17 from the stripe on his own. Xavier isn’t shooting well right now, but an attacking approach will give them plenty of chances for free points.

-Win the freebie war. Force more turnovers, get more second chances. Georgetown has shored up the defensive glass a bit in conference, but Xavier is the best rebounding team in the league and the Hoyas still don’t go to the offensive glass. Xavier doesn’t have to outshoot the Hoyas if they get themselves more attempts overall.

-Finish the game. The Muskies have been outscored by a total of 13 points in the past two second halves. Fading from games is bad. Finishing them makes a statement. It’s time to circle the wagons at Cintas.