After a 71-61 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2) in the 2K Classic semifinals, the Georgetown Hoyas (1-2) will meet Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (3-1) in Sunday’s final. Duke is coming off a 79-71 win against the VCU Rams (2-1). Duke and Georgetown will now renew an on-and-off rivalry. The last time these two teams met was in 2010 when then-No. 8 Georgetown toppled then-No. 7 Duke 89-77.
In this year’s meeting, the defending national champion Blue Devils return sophomore guard Grayson Allen, who is averaging 22.5 points per game to lead Duke. Despite losing center Jahlil Okafor, forward Justise Winslow and guard Tyus Jones to the NBA, Krzyzewski revamped the Blue Devils with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. A freshman trio of guards — Derryck Thornton, Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard — has helped Duke put together the best offense in the country at 116 points per 100 possessions, per KenPom.com.
The three guards have all contributed to Duke’s improved defense. The Blue Devils have ranked in the top 20 in defensive efficiency so far. However, not unlike Wisconsin, Duke struggles to defend the three-point shot, ranking 308th in the nation as it allows opponents to shoot nearly 42 percent from deep. The Hoyas will have to capitalize on this weakness as they did against the Badgers.
After going 9-of-16 from three-point range against a perennially strong defense, Head Coach John Thompson III’s offense looks significantly improved from the first couple of games. Even so, the Hoyas are going to need to continue their improvement if they hope to compete with Duke’s elite level of talent.
The Hoyas defeated the Badgers despite below-average performances from their two senior co-captains. Senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has failed to crack 20 points in any of the three games he has played, and senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes averaged a double-double through the first two games before a quiet outing on Friday, when he scored just four points.
However, freshman center Jessie Govan provided strong offensive production Friday, scoring 13 points, including a three-pointer, and grabbing five rebounds. Thompson is excited about the potential impact of Govan’s offensive ability, particularly his outside shot.
“There’s a whole portion of what we can do offensively that we haven’t done the last couple of years because we haven’t had a big guy that’s a threat out [in three-point range],” Thompson said. “So now we can start to implement some of the things that we haven’t done for quite a few years which will open things up even more.”
The game against Duke continues Georgetown’s difficult early-season schedule, as Georgetown had already faced No. 3 Maryland (3-0) before the 2K Classic. Thompson hopes that these early tests will help the team develop for the future.
“We’re looking for wins,” Thompson said. “And we have to do better than we have so far. But at the same time I think that we have a young team, and so there’s room for growth and hopefully we’ll grow up. “
After an 0-2 start, the Hoyas are focused primarily on winning games.
“More than anything we just need to win. We were 0-2 after the Maryland game, we feel like that kind of slipped away. … Hopefully we can keep winning,” junior forward Reggie Cameron said.
Sophomore forward Paul White, who has missed all of Georgetown’s games so far, remains questionable to play against Duke. Sophomore guard Tre Campbell is sidelined with an undisclosed illness and did not travel with the team. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN and the WatchESPN app.