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February 23, 2014

Hoyas close door

February 23, 2014 - When Georgetown traveled to Xavier on January 15th for a BIG EAST clash, the Hoyas were ahead by 42-29 at halftime, 17 in the second half. Unfortunately G'Town collapsed, falling 80-67.

Yesterday there was a sense of deja vu in the Verizon Center; the Hoyas led Xavier 42-26 after the first stanza. Just as before they were rolling.

Before 11,854 fans, this time around there would be no faltering - Georgetown, now 16-11 overall, 7-8 in BIG EAST play walked away with a convincing 74-52 Verizon Center win.

"It's almost the antithesis, the exact opposite of what I said after last game" said head coach John Thompson III afterward, referencing his post game comments after Thursday's troubling loss at Seton Hall. "I think that our effort, attention to detail, our concentration, was pretty good for forty minutes. I think we came out of the box, set the tone early".

Furthermore, Thompson indicated he "thought our guys were able to sustain their effort, sustain their communication; we didn't have any mixups - you see two guys go running, and one guy pops open. I thought we did a very good job on the boards also".

Though he didn't realize his team dropped 42 points in the first half of both games, Thompson admitted "I reminded them we had a big lead the first game". He also opined "I think we came out the second half and re-established ourselves. Re-established our energy".

The result was Xavier not scoring a bucket for over twelve and a half, second stanza minutes, twice falling behind by 23 points. The Musketeers only completed 35.3% of their second half shots, 20% of three pointers. For the game, Xavier shot at 42.1% overall, while sinking a third (4-12) of three balls.

Returning to the starting lineup was junior swingman Jabril Trawick, the first time being so tabbed since coming back from a broken jaw on January 27th. It was an important move by Thompson.

"Quite honestly, it had a huge impact. When he's on the court, we're a better team" remarked the coach, who though lamenting losing "the infusion off the bench" Trawick supplied, will likely keep his junior performer with the starters.

Trawick finished with 13 points, three rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes, on 5-8 shooting (2-4 from three point land). Of his impact, he noted "I knew we needed to get out to a good start...We got off to a few slow starts and so we wanted to come out and be the aggressors, set the tone".

Xavier head coach Chris Mack was not shocked. "We knew he was a really good player" he said, "an emotional leader, and did a really good job for their team".

Mack extended accolades to G'Town as a whole: "They outplayed us. They out-hustled us. They out-coached us. They were by far the superior team on the court today. It wasn't even close".

Yesterday sophomore guard Semaj Christon led the Muskies with 18 points. Senior forward Justin Martin logged 13 points, four rebounds, while junior center Matt Stainbrook logged 12 points and three caroms.

The Hoyas got 22 points from senior point guard Markel Starks, along with three rebounds and four assists. Sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and senior forward Nate Lubick both finished with nine points, the former adding four rebounds, two assists, the latter pulling down a game high seven caroms. Eight and seven points were provided respectively by junior forward Mikael Hopkins and senior swingman Aaron Bowen.

G'Town finished at 52.1% shooting, while canning 41.7% of their three point attempts. Rebounding totals favored G'Town 26-21, as did the helper battle, a 14-8 Hoya victory and turnover comparison.

That last stat, which finished with Georgetown committing three to Xavier's 11, left members of the program stunned.

"We can't turn the ball over" said Thompson. "This group can't have wasted possessions", who admitted "I don't think I've ever been involved with a team that had three turnovers".

The usually loquacious Starks was equally taken aback, noting "Honestly, like Coach said, that was unbelievable. I didn't even know that. But I think we did a very good job of taking care of the basketball, across the board. The attention to detail was there today".

In sum, the senior captain opined "It was a joy to play the game game today...If we can just sustain that level of competitiveness. If we can just sustain that level of effort, we can do big things". For the Hoyas to do that - specifically make the NCAA Tournament and progress in it - games have to be won. Up next is a dangerous Marquette team, in Milwaukee. Tip-Off is Thursday, 9p EST.

Xavier (18-9, 8-6), must travel up I-95 for a Tuesday, 7P EST tilt at St. John's.

For more on Starks, the shooting of Trawick and Mack's comments on how difficult it is to come back on a Georgetown team leading, see Premium Court.

Also there is a discussion of the game.

Non-HoyaReport.com subscribers can do so, and thereby access this information, here.

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