With one conference win under its belt, the Georgetown men’s basketball team will host the No. 16 Creighton Blue Jays on Wednesday night as the Hoyas attempt to gain ground in the contested Big East Conference standings.
Georgetown (10-10, 1-6 Big East) remains tied with DePaul (8-12, 1-6 Big East) in the bottom of the standings after losing its second consecutive conference game, falling to Xavier (14-5, 4-3 Big East) for the second time this season Sunday by a score of 86-75.
Meanwhile, Creighton (18-2, 5-2 Big East) sits at third in the conference, but lost its first game without senior guard and offensive catalyst Maurice Watson Jr., who tore his ACL last week, falling to Marquette (13-6, 4-3 Big East) over the past weekend.
Watson leads the team in assists, averaging an astonishing 8.5 assists per game. However, it was the defensive side of the court that suffered the most from his absence. The Blue Jays allowed a season-high 102 points against the Golden Eagles, who shot 50 percent from beyond the arc. The Hoyas must use Watson’s absence to their advantage and create mismatches along the perimeter to free up opportunities for their shooters in order to establish their offensive presence early on.
While many believed that Creighton’s offense would struggle without Watson, the Blue Jays’ bench players stepped up and helped maintain Creighton’s high-scoring offense, which ranks first in the Big East, scoring 87.1 points per game.
Freshman guard Davion Mintz came off the bench for the Blue Jays and scored a career-high 17 points against the Golden Eagles while leading scorer Marcus Foster finished with a season-high 30 points. Georgetown’s defense needs to keep the ball out of Foster’s hands and make Creighton run its offense through its less experienced players.
To establish an offensive rhythm, Georgetown — especially the starters — must limit its fouls early. Against Xavier, three of Georgetown’s starters played 15 minutes or fewer due to foul trouble. All Hoya starters finished the first half with two fouls, limiting the team’s ability to develop offensive momentum.
Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson fouled out with 5:53 remaining against Xavier and played a total of 12 minutes — well below his season average of 23.6 minutes per game. Derrickson was Georgetown’s most efficient scorer of the game during the time he was on the court, shooting 3-of-3 from the floor. Derrickson must avoid fouling early as he remains an integral part of the Hoyas’ offense.
Georgetown seems to still be searching for its identity during conference play. In the Hoyas’ first four conference losses of the season, the average deficit was 7.5 points and Georgetown always fought until the game’s final minutes.
Comparably, the Hoyas have lost by an average of 14.5 points in their last two conference games. Against the Musketeers, the Hoyas were in position to turn the game around, as they were down by seven points with just under five minutes remaining. However, turnovers prevented Georgetown from gaining any ground and allowed Xavier to run away with the game. The Hoyas turned the ball over five times in the final five minutes, including four in the final two minutes of regulation.
Creighton currently ranks second in the Big East in turnover margin, sporting an impressive +2.6 margin. On the flip side, Georgetown ranks second to last in the conference with a -0.65 turnover margin.
The Hoyas have turned the ball over 15 times in four straight conference games and must lower this number if they want to compete with the defensively aggressive Blue Jays, who average 6.8 steals per game.
Fouls and turnovers continue to plague the Hoyas in conference games, and if the team expects to turn this season around, it must first focus on addressing these issues.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.