The Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-6, 4-1, Big East) picked up a much-needed win Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in the team’s first look at Chris Mullin’s St. John’s squad (7-11, 0-5 Big East) 93-73.
Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 33 points, tying a career-high, off 11-of-16 shooting and seven rebounds against the rival Red Storm. Junior forward Reggie Cameron and sophomore guard Tre Campbell also broke double-digit points, dropping 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Hoyas pulled away fast. Though Smith-Rivera was slow to start, Georgetown benefitted from Cameron’s hot hand behind the three-point line. The Red Storm simply could not find the bottom of the rim in the first half, and the Hoyas piled on the points in what looked to be a brutal blowout, heading into halftime leading 45-28.
St. John’s senior forward Ron Mvoulka finally got the Red Storm going in the second half, scoring 15 points in the final frame. But the Georgetown buckets would not stop, as the Hoyas outscored the Johnnies 48-45 in the second act, largely thanks to Smith-Rivera, who tied his career-high in points. The Hoyas shot an impressive 52 percent on the night, including 42 percent from three-point range, as opposed to St. John’s 39 percent from the floor, with an identical 39 percent from beyond the arc.
The Hoyas and the Red Storm were both without significant contributors in the contest. Georgetown freshman forward Marcus Derrickson told Head Coach John Thompson III that he couldn’t play after banging knees with another player during practice earlier this week. He is day-to-day. Sophomore forward Paul White missed the game as well, as he underwent hip surgery earlier in the day that ended his 2015-2016 season.
St. John’s standout freshman center Yankuba Sima was forced to the sidelines by a broken hand. In his second game out of commission, the Red Storm sorely missed his efficient 8.4 points per game off 50 percent shooting. Curiously, St. John’s still managed to out-block the Hoyas, 5-4, without their leading shotblocker.
Georgetown’s 93 points is a season-high for the Hoyas, who are reaching an offensive peak when they need it most. Over the next six games, the Hoyas will face four ranked teams (No. 6 Villanova, No. 7 Xavier, No. 12 Providence, and No. 23 Butler). The other two games, an away matchup with Connecticut and a home meeting with the Creighton Blue Jays, who already defeated the Hoyas this season, are no cupcakes either.
The win over St. John’s moves the Hoyas into sole possession of second-place in the Big East standings, sitting a half-game above Xavier. If the Hoyas can manage to scrape out a few wins during the brutal upcoming stretch, they have a chance to finish the regular season with a decent seed in the conference tournament, and perhaps, a glimmer of hope for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Hoyas will return home Saturday to take on rival No. 6 Villanova Wildcats (14-2, 4-0 Big East) at Verizon Center. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 1:00 p.m., and will be televised on CBS.