After losing six of its last nine games, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-12, 7-6 Big East) finds itself tied for fifth place in the Big East standings. A home game against the Seton Hall Pirates (17-7, 7-5 Big East) is yet another must-win game for the Hoyas if they hope to keep their slim tournament hopes alive.
In this season’s previous meeting between the two teams, the Pirates took care of the Hoyas 69-61 behind a strong game from Seton Hall sophomore forward Angel Delgado, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Georgetown must look to slow down Delgado if it hopes to avenge its earlier loss.
“We just got to make sure we limit his second shots. He’s a great rebounder,” freshman center Jessie Govan said. “We just got to keep him off the boards, make sure we put a body on him and box him out.”
With senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes sidelined indefinitely with a broken left hand, Govan will have to step up, playing increased minutes and a more featured role on offense.
Despite fouling out in Saturday’s 75-72 loss at Providence, Govan tallied 13 points and finished off pick-and-rolls to get to the line. However, his foul trouble was a reflection of a recurring fouling problem that the Hoyas have caused the last four games. In each of Georgetown’s previous four contests, its opponents have shot at least 27 free throws.
“[We] just have to try and keep our hands straight up, you know, just try and limit those ticky-tack fouls and just play solid defense,” Govan said of fixing his and the team’s foul troubles. “I just got to make a better effort to … keep my hands straight up … and play correct defense.”
Georgetown will also need to contain Seton Hall’s star sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead. Though he shot just 3-of-15 from the field in the teams’ last matchup, he finished with 16 points thanks to shooting 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
“We just got to show him different looks. We can’t get him used to the same thing,” sophomore guard L.J. Peak said about defending Whitehead.
Peak, despite Georgetown’s losses, has shone in the last few games, working on every aspect of his game and cutting down on the foul trouble that limited his minutes earlier in the season. Moreover, the sophomore guard has shot an efficient 10-of-20 from the three-point line this season, bringing his season average to 40 percent, well above his 25 percent mark from last season.
“I’ve been working [on my shot] all my life, but I’m just gaining confidence in it now. It’s starting to work,” Peak said.
As the outside shots for Peak have improved, Georgetown’s other marksman, freshman forward Marcus Derrickson, seemed to have found his rhythm last game and will look to carry it over into Wednesday night’s matchup.
Derrickson played a milestone game against Providence, tallying career highs in minutes played, points and assists. His ability to play center when Govan is out of the game will likely come into play the rest of the season, and his ability to stretch the floor with three-point shooting offers the Georgetown offense much more flexibility.
“That’s just a part of the offense. … It’s just being a ball player,” Derrickson said of his open looks in the offense. “If everybody’s doing their job, it opens up a lot.”
Creating open looks and offensive efficiency will be crucial for the Hoyas, as the Pirates rank first in the Big East in effective field goal percentage defense — a measure of how well a team shoots when taking into account the value of a three-pointer. They also rank first in offensive rebounding percentage, while the Hoyas rank fifth in allowing offensive rebounds, per KenPom.com.
The Hoyas need a win to keep their tournament hopes alive, as they currently rank No. 79 in the Ratings Percentage Index, a valuable measure that the NCAA Tournament Selection committee uses to award teams at-large bids.
Wednesday’s game marks the first of a three-game homestand for Georgetown, as well as the final three home games of the season. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.