After suffering a tough loss to Butler (15-7, 4-6 Big East) Tuesday night, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 Big East) looks to get back on track Saturday night on the road against Seton Hall (16-6, 6-4 Big East). The Pirates, led by Head Coach Kevin Willard, are enjoying one of their most successful seasons in recent history, and they have the potential to reach the NCAA tournament if they can keep up their strong play. Seton Hall defeated Providence (18-5, 6-4 Big East) on the road at the Dunkin Donuts Center in January and lost to Villanova (19-3, 9-1 Big East) at home by just one point.
In their last game, the Pirates defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles (15-8, 4-6 Big East) by a score of 79-62. The current Big East Player of the Week, sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead, scored a game-high 21 points while sophomore forward Angel Delgado had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Whitehead also added eight assists, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. This season, Georgetown has struggled to defend breakout guards on opposing teams — Providence junior guard Kris Dunn scored 26 points last week against it — so limiting Whitehead will be key.
“The teams that don’t get as much appreciation are just as tough to battle night in and night out [because] they’ve got some great players,” senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera said of Big East competition early in the season. “But hopefully at the end of the race, we’re on top.”
On the season, Whitehead leads his team in scoring and assists and is second in three-point field goal percentage. He averages 16.2 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game and shoots 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. Delgado, the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, averages 14.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Pirates have an extremely young roster, with just one senior, guard Derrick Gordon, and a starting lineup of five sophomores.
The calling card for this inexperienced team, which has surprised many teams this season, has been its stingy defense. Currently, the Pirates rank second in the Big East in scoring defense, third in field goal and three-point field goal percentage defense and second in steals. The Hoyas will have to avoid the scoring droughts that have plagued them at times during the season. With senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and sophomore guard L.J. Peak as the only two Georgetown players averaging double-digit points per game, the Hoyas must find a reliable third scorer if they are going to crack a formidable Seton Hall defensive squad.
Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland, who filled that role in the beginning of the season, has since dropped down on Georgetown’s stat sheet. Since the beginning of January, Copeland, who ranked No. 16 overall in the nation by ESPN last year, has scored double-digit points in just three out of his last 10 games and has scored two or fewer points in four out of those 10 games. Also since January, Copeland is shooting 19-for-75 or 25.3 percent from the field, and is 4-for-31 or 12.9 percent from three-point range. With just eight games left in the regular season and Georgetown hanging on to its hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament, it must win games against teams like Seton Hall to have a shot at playing in the tournament in March. Georgetown still has games remaining against Providence and Villanova on the road and against Xavier (20-2, 8-2 Big East) at home, and with its conference record at 6-4, Georgetown must keep pace with the top half of the Big East if it is to have a shot at avoiding the National Invitation Tournament.
The game is scheduled for a 9 p.m. tipoff at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.