As one problem goes away, an old one resurfaces.
Georgetown (19-5, 9-4 Big East) travels to Rhode Island on Saturday to play its second game this season against Providence (13-14, 2-12 Big East), who battled the Hoyas in an unexpectedly tough and ugly contest on New Year’s Eve. Georgetown barely survived in the 49-40 win.
“We expect the same thing: [from Providence] to play us tough, make everything difficult for us,” senior center Henry Sims said.
The Hoyas turned the ball over just seven times against the Friars in December, before starting an eight-game stretch in which they averaged almost 15 giveaways a game. The string of unforced errors prompted the team to refocus its efforts on taking care of the ball.
“That’s definitely been a big concern for our team, especially me,” Sims said. “We turned the ball over more than we should, and we focused on that in practice: being smarter with decisions, being a little more patient, being 100 percent with our movements and our passes.”
The work paid off, as Georgetown has kept turnovers below double digits in two of its last three games, in part by avoiding almost all unforced errors.
“I think most of the games we lost, you’d seen a significant number of turnovers,” freshman guard Jabril Trawick said. “So that’s something we’ve been focusing on, just taking care of the ball and getting up shots.”
But that is exactly where Providence will look to create difficulties. The Hoyas shot just 31 percent from the field against the Friars, including a 2-of-13 performance from Sims, Georgetown’s primary inside scoring threat.
“[Providence] did a very good job in protecting the paint,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Who knows whether they’re going to do that again. They had some success with it. You have to anticipate that’s going to happen. But it was not a question of not getting quality looks — the shots just weren’t going in.”
That was true for both teams, as the Blue and Gray limited the Friars to a 13-of-51 performance from the field on an abysmal shooting night for both teams. It was the only game in which Georgetown has been held to less than 50 points.
“I think the first time we didn’t really pay attention to detail. As in this game, I think we’re definitely going to guard better, and the scoring is going to work itself out,” Trawick said. “The primary objective is to guard them better. Our shots weren’t falling much. So when games happen like that, we have to defend. It was an ugly game, but we still pulled it out. Hopefully this time, we’ll be hitting shots.”
Providence, meanwhile, finds itself in last place in the Big East, at 2-12 in conference play and 13-14 overall. It’s been a rough season for the Friars, who had one surprising win against No. 19 Louisville back in January but have lost 11 of 12 since then, including close losses against Villanova, West Virginia and South Florida.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.