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Georgetown has been a top-10 team since purging its karma; can it stay there?

The Hoyas added by subtraction, unleashed Mac McClung, and have gone on an unholy tear since the start of December.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgetown
"Hey dude, I'm about to put this team on my back."
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Do you remember how you felt right after Thanksgiving? If you're a Georgetown fan, it was probably some kind of sick that no amount of seasonal goodies could account for. The Hoyas lost a home game to UNC Greensboro that weekend to fall to 4-3. Soon after, talented sophomores James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc were both mentioned in a press release that announced both were off the team and unfairly linked them, at least for the moment, in public perception.

That link was bad for Akinjo because news soon broke that Josh LeBlanc and another basketball player were named in an incident report from the police regarding their behavior towards a female student. It later came out that the other player was Galen Alexander, not Akinjo. Alexander - maintaining his innocence all the while - has also left the school, as has freshman wing Myron Gardner.

In the blink of an eye, four rotation players disappeared, three under a dark cloud and one caught up in the storm through no apparent fault of his own. A deep, young, and exciting Georgetown roster that had struggled to find its feet lay gutted.

Except... they just started winning and haven't stopped.

Powered by 33 from Mac McClung, they opened up a can on KenPom #24 Oklahoma State on the road. McClung put together 19/4/7 and made 5 threes the next time out as the Hoyas blew the doors off of Southern Methodist. Next up was hated rival Syracuse, and McClung pulled in his third KenPom game MVP in three tries by posting 26 on 7-16 shooting with no turnovers in the win.

Riding high, the Hoyas beat the brakes off of UMBC and Samford behind a combined 54 and 30 on 26-34 from inside the arc from Omer Yurtseven.

A season that looked dead in the water at 4-3 is suddenly alive and well after 5 straight wins. The Hoyas traveled to OK State at 67th in the KenPom; they're 39th as of COB on Saturday, 12/21. How?

Setting aside for the moment that it was actually the shedding of a karmic burden that freed the Hoyas, there is some merit to the idea that there was turmoil behind the scenes. Allegations against LeBlanc and Alexander were levied before the season started, and it's still not 100% clear what was known, when, and by whom. Whatever the case was, it's clear that Georgetown didn't handle it proactively, and it festered through the early part of the season.

The rotation has also (necessarily) tightened, and the players lost weren't contributing at a high level. Akinjo and Gardner were shooting terribly, Alexander had huge turnover problems, and LeBlanc had taken a big step back from his impressive freshman season. Except for LeBlanc, each of the players had an ORtg at least 6 points worse than that of Georgetown as a whole through those first 7 games.

With the new roster, the Hoyas have focused more of their minutes and usage on more effective players. Terrell Allen has an ORtg 7.5 points higher than Akinjo's; he has gone from averaging under 15 minutes per game to over 30. Ultra-efficient center Omer Yurtseven has added more than 2 FGA per game. Jahvon Blair played 66 minutes in the team's first 7 games; he has played 101 in their last 5 and ripped off 4 straight games with an ORtg above 130.

Then there's Mac McClung. Free to carry the whole offensive load, he has averaged more than 22 points and shot 39-80/14-32/19-22. Without another scorer in the backcourt, he's gunning like mad and absolutely lighting the world on fire right now.

Georgetown's revival has been almost purely offensive. According to Bart Torvik, their adjusted offensive efficiency since December began is 123.3; that's a rate that would be leading the nation by almost 10 points per 100 possessions over the course of the year. It's absurd productivity.

It's going to be a big ask for Georgetown to keep it up. Yurtseven, Allen, Blair, and McClung are joined in the rotation by Jagan Mosely in the backcourt and Jamorko Pickett up front. Freshman Qudus Wahab provides emergency depth in the post. That - six dudes and a 6'11" reserve chute - is basically it.

Foul trouble could derail a game for the Hoyas. One more injury could dissolve their season. After one more tune-up, the meat grinder of the Big East begins. Georgetown's conference schedule has (per KenPom) 11 tier A games, 5 tier B games, and home games with Providence and St. John's, both top 100 opponents that just won their respective legs of the Big East-Big 12 challenge.

The whole thing hangs on the edge of a knife for Georgetown right now. The odds aren't great that they'll be able to hold it together for three months of battles in the Big East, but they're certainly playing an incredibly entertaining form of basketball along the way, and that's more than you could say for them before the purge.