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

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An early relegation six-pointer will leave one of these teams with a lot of ground to make up to get above the water line in conference.

This is the energy we need tonight.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

There's no question Xavier has been swimming against the tide lately. After having been within touching distance in every game for the first 15 contests of the year, they watched Creighton walk away late and Marquette run clear early to slip to 1-4 in Big East play and raise questions of what their identity is and whether or not they can fight back this year.

Georgetown is only half a game above X in the standings at 2-4. They beat Creighton and St. John's from the free throw line, but they also have losses by 16, 16, and 14 in conference before dropping a tight one to Marquette their last time out. There's a lot at stake here as two solid programs try to rescue suddenly floundering seasons.

Team fingerprint

Georgetown wins and loses on the strength of their offense, which is in the top 20 nationally. They crush the glass and shoot pretty well - though not at an elite level - from all over. Ball security has been a weakness for them overall, and their two-point numbers have taken a step backward in conference play.

Defensively... eesh. They have been last in the Big East in defensive efficiency thanks largely to their inability to stop teams from getting the shots they want. They're allowing an EFG% of almost 54%. Their rebounding and turnover numbers have been solid and they aren't fouling, but it hasn't mattered under the barrage of made baskets.

Players

Starters

Starting matchups
Terrell Allen Point Guard Quentin Goodin
Senior Class Senior
6'3", 180 Measurements 6'4", 194
6.9/2.1/3.8 Game line 7.1/5.1/1.7
48.5/30.8/71.8 Shooting line 41.4/28.6/86.7
Allen shoots well inside and from the line and passes the ball well. He leans into those, doesn't shoot from deep too much, and keeps the offense clicking.
Mac McClung Shooting Guard Paul Scruggs
Sophomore Class Junior
6'2", 186 Measurements 6'4", 196
16.5/3.2/2.7 Game line 14.7/4.4/2.6
41.4/34.5/78.4 Shooting line 52.1/37.5/71.9
If you don't like Mac McClung, I wonder about your ability to experience joy. McClung is always ready to shoot, always in attack mode, and seems ready to fight at any time. He's a live wire capable of winning a game on his own.
Jagan Mosely Small Forward Naji Marshall
Senior Class Junior
6'3", 215 Measurements 6'7", 222
7.5/4.3/3.5 Game line 16.7/5.8/3.4
56.4/50/79.5 Shooting line 44.3/28.2/72.7
Mosely has the best true shooting percentage in the nation. He can pick his spots from deep, is nails from the line, and finishes well inside. He doesn't rebound and he turns the ball over too much, but he can fill it up.
Jamorko Pickett Power Forward Jason Carter
Junior Class Junior
6'8", 206 Measurements 6'8", 227
9.4/6.1/1.1 Game line 6.3/3.6/0.3
43.2/39.5/73 Shooting line 51.2/50/78.4
Pickett has the worst offensive efficiency of any contributor on the team but uses the third most possessions. He combines the odd skill set of blocking shots, offensive rebounding, and solid three point shooting, but turns the ball over too much and finishes inside too poorly to be truly effective consistently.
Omer Yurtseven Center Tyrique Jones
Senior Class Senior
7'0", 264 Measurements 6'9", 239
16.9/9.9/1.2 Game line 13.6/9.6/1.1
56.1/30/75.7 Shooting line 52.9/0/62.9
Yurtseven is the best center in the conference. He's a great rebounder, finishes well inside, blocks shots, and passes well out of the post. If a center should do it, he does.

Bench

The Hoyas play two guys off their bench. They had a deep team but, if you’ll recall, four of them have left under a murky cloud of criminal charges and restraining orders. 6-4 guard Jahvon Blair does a little bit of everything and does it all reasonably well. He’s not a star, but he cares for the ball well and is the kind of player that every winning team needs. Qudus Wahab is a 6-11 shot blocking and rebounding menace. For a freshman who came in with questions about his polish, he’s been very good around the rim as well. If he were to play a full 40 minutes he would likely come close to fouling out twice.

Three questions:

- Is Xavier foundering? If the Musketeers can’t come off the mat and win this one, they are in very serious trouble. To this point in the season Xavier has shown only regression and an inability to take a hit and bounce back. (Unlike Big Sean). They absolutely have to tonight, or it is panic time. No team is starting the Big East season 1-5 and going on to do anything.

- Can Tyrique Jones handle Omer Yurtseven? Georgetown’s offense clicks in large part because Yurtseven demands attention from more than one player. He recently finished a demolition of Theo John, Marquette’s weirdly haired big man that Xavier somehow made look good. If Jones can keep Yurtseven at least in check, the rest of the defense will have a much better chance against Georgetown’s guards. If Yurtseven commands consistent post digs, Xavier will lose.

- Can Xavier score? Most likely not, but who knows. In all seriousness, this is not a good defense that the Musketeers are facing. Georgetown’s defense is even worse than Xavier’s in conference play. That’s saying something. The Musketeers need to get healthy now and this is the perfect chance to do it.

Three keys

-Feed the horses. Naji, Paul, and Tyrique have been Xavier's studs in Big East play. They've also been the team's highest-usage players, but the Muskies need to double down on that even further. Xavier can get shots for other guys any time they want them because opponents are thrilled with that outcome. The bulk of the offense needs to be focused on funneling touches to those three players in areas they can do damage.

-Slow down Mac McClung. Xavier has been gashed by Colin Gillespie, Myles Powell, and Markus Howard to the tune of 83 points in 3 games. Georgetown has its own volume scoring guard who will be happy to drop 30 tonight given half a chance. The Muskies need to find a way to get the defense back rolling, and a good first step would be not allowing an opposing guard to get buckets at will.

-Play free. Almost nobody is at his best tense. Travis Steele pointed out in the presser that everyone on the team knows what this game might mean, but they have to find a way to go out there and have fun if they want to perform at a high level. I'll be on my couch breathing into a paper bag; I'd love to see some smiles on the players' faces as they refind their respective and collective groove(s).