Georgetown entered Big East play looking like a team destined for the NIT.
It wasn’t so much that they didn’t have the horses to make a run at the NCAA tournament — because they do, on paper this is a top 20 basketball team – the issue was that if this team couldn’t take care of business against Radford, Monmouth and UNC Asheville at home, what was going to happen when they had to start playing league games?
The Hoyas kicked off Big East play with a 4-1, but none of those five games came against one of the top four teams in the conference. When they finally did square off with one of the Big East’s elite, they needed a late flurry just to make things interesting in a 55-50 loss to No. 4 Villanova.
Put all that together, and the last thing that even the most diehard Hoya expected was for Georgetown to go into the Cintas Center and take care of business against No. 5 Xavier, but that’s precisely what happened. Tre Campbell hit all five of his threes and scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half while former Xavier-commit D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had his best game of the season, finishing with 20 points and seven assists, as the Hoyas knocked off the Musketeers, 81-72.
There’s a couple of things to discuss here, but first and foremost, this is the kind of win that can erase a lot of the damage that Georgetown did to their résumé in November and December. They still have a fairly significant hole to dig out of and likely need to pick up at least three wins in six remaining games against Providence, Xavier, Butler and Villanova, but the bottom-line is that Georgetown landed themselves a road win over a top ten team. That could end up going down as one of the five best wins any team lands this season.
The other part of it is that the Hoyas finally looked like a Georgetown team we’ve come to expect under John Thompson III. Their big men, Jessie Govan and Bradley Hayes, were able to make plays in the paint and their guards were able to take advantage of the game-plan that JT III drew up, specifically how they handled Xavier’s 1-3-1 zone.
Xavier is a team that prides themselves in being tougher than their opponent, every time they step on the floor.
They took one on the chin from the Hoyas on Tuesday night.