No. 6 Villanova knocks off Georgetown in Big East battle for first

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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WASHINGTON — Josh Hart finished with 15 points, 12 boards, two assists and two steals as No. 6 Villanova went into the nation’s capitol and knocked off Georgetown, 55-50, in a battle for first place in the Big East.

It was a throwback Big East battle, as neither team was able to find any kind of rhythm on the offensive end of the floor. Villanova took a 26-22 lead into the break, extended that to ten within the first two minutes of the second half and led by as many as 11 points with less than nine minutes left on the clock. But a pair of driving buckets from L.J. Peak coincided with the Hoyas knocking down a trio of timely triples as Georgetown got within three points on two different occasions.

But with less than a minute left and the lead down to 49-46, freshman center Jessie Govan landed on the end line as he gathered a defensive rebound, turning the ball back over the the Wildcats. Ryan Arcidiacono hit four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

It was a performance that perfectly exemplified what is wrong with this Georgetown team, who has the talent to be a top 20 team this season. They scored 22 points and and shot just 32.0 percent from the floor in the first half. They had 27 points with nine minutes left. They were down 42-31 at the under eight timeout. They finished the night with 17 field goals and 13 turnovers. It wasn’t pretty, and while much of it was a product of Villanova’s defense — they are ranked seventh nationally in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom — it belies the bigger point that this Georgetown team just doesn’t have the makeup of a typical Hoya team.

Namely, they don’t have that high-post passer that can get them layups on back door cuts, that keeps defenses honest by punishing them for overplaying on the wings. Georgetown’s system rarely, if ever, has the kind of dynamic playmaker at the point guard spot that can be counted on to break down a defense off the dribble, which is by design. They want their guards to bury spot-up jumpers and embrace running offense through their big men. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is an very good player, but he’s not a great fit for what he’s being asked to do.

As weird as it may sound, this team really misses Josh Smith.

But the season is far from over. The Hoyas are still 4-2 in league play, but with losses to Monmouth, Radford and UNC Asheville already on their résumé, they’re going to regret missing out on an opportunity to land a win over the team that is currently ranked first on KenPom.