WASHINGTON (AP) No chance Edmond Sumner could sleep in on his birthday, not with Xavier’s Big East conference game set for an unusual 11 a.m. start time. Instead, the sophomore guard went out and rocked Georgetown with a performance that was anything but a snoozer.
Sumner scored a career-high 28 points on his birthday and J. P. Macura added 23 as No. 17 Xavier fended off Georgetown for an 81-76 victory Saturday.
With leading scorer Trevon Bluiett misfiring throughout – 0 for 10 from the field for one point – the Musketeers (12-2, 2-0) relied on their two other main weapons for production. Produce they did, especially Sumner who also had eight rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes.
“Edmond Sumner was phenomenal,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “On a night where an All-Conference player like Trevon doesn’t shoot the ball well at all. … I thought Edmond and J.P. really stepped up.”
The Musketeers only shot 39 percent from the field, but made 29 of 38 free throws with Sumner hitting 14 of 17. Georgetown (8-6, 0-2) was 14 of 23.
“We knew they were switching some on the ball screens so they were going to switch a big (man) on me,” said Sumner, explaining the strategy that put him in advantageous situations. “With my quickness, it was going to be hard for them to keep me in front so we just wanted to exploit that.”
L.J. Peak scored 21 points for the Hoyas, who have lost two straight.
The Musketeers trailed by six points early in the second half, but Macura’s 3-pointer put Xavier up for good at 62-59 with 8:23 remaining His two free throws capped a 13-5 run to give the Musketeers their largest lead, 72-64 with 3:58 remaining.
“We have to at key points in the game get key stops, key rebounds,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “There were key points where they would get fouled or they would get a rebound and get a shot. We have to cut that out. ”
Rodney Pryor had 20 points including 10 straight for Georgetown after Macura’s free throws. Trailing 77-74, Pryor missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining.
Mack coaches one of the four Big East teams ranked among the top 17 teams as 2016 concludes.
“The league has done awesome outside of conference play,” Mack said. “I think everybody nationally gives our league the respect that it’s earned. Now it’s just a street fight between (Big East) teams home and away all throughout the year. There are no nights off in this league – or mornings off.”
Xavier: Make it five straight wins for the Musketeers after losing two in a row. They did so despite the rare off night from Bluiett. The junior guard scored at least 17 points in his previous seven games.
Georgetown: Despite shooting 50 percent from the field overall, the Hoyas could not avoid the program’s first 0-2 start in Big East play since 2012-13.
“We can’t have mental lapses like that defensively,” Pryor said. “Once we tighten things up like that I think we’ll be fine.”
No. 17 Xavier won twice this week, including a dominant 82-56 rout over Providence on Wednesday.
RISE AND SHINE
“It’s a wild start time,” Mack said. “I don’t know how many high competitive basketball games I’ve been a part of that start at 11 a.m. I thought both teams were ready to go.”
SHAKE IT UP
Peak scored 16 points in the first half as the Hoyas led 38-36. Xavier adjusted by playing far more 1-3-1 zone as the game progressed, Sumner said. Peak’s three-point play with 11:41 remaining put the Hoyas up 57-54, but he never scored again.
Xavier hosts St. John’s next Saturday. Last season the Musketeers won both games including 90-83 in Cincinnati.
Georgetown opens 2017 on the road at Providence. The Hoyas have lost four straight to the Friars and three in a row on the road in the series. Their last win at Providence came Feb. 18, 2012.