Pickett’s charge: No. 4 Xavier holds off Georgetown challenge

February 22, 2018

Despite going into halftime with a two point lead, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (15-11, 5-10 Big East) was unable to hold on, falling 89-77 to No. 4 Xavier (25-4, 13-3 Big East) at Capital One Arena on Wednesday night. After a poor shooting performance and subpar defensive effort in the first half, the Musketeers tightened up in the second, demonstrating their full capabilities as the current leaders of the Big East and the fourth ranked team in the country. With their first loss in three games, the Hoyas drop to 5-10 in Big East play, clinching a losing conference season in head coach Patrick Ewing’s first year.

Georgetown started the game with momentum after junior center Jessie Govan blocked a floater from Xavier sophomore forward Tyrique Jones in the opening minute. The Musketeers took the first lead of the game, but by the first media timeout, freshman guard Jamorko Pickett was 3-3 from beyond the arc and the Hoyas were in front, 9-6. Pickett finished the game with a career-high six three pointers and led his team in points with 21.

After the game, Xavier head coach Chris Mack praised the freshman. “I think Jamorko Pickett is going to have one of the best careers,” he said. “I know Georgetown’s had some great players. You can add him to the list.”

Coming out of the timeout, Govan hit a deep jumper, but Xavier senior guard J.P. Macura began to heat up. He scored 10 straight points for the Musketeers to quiet the crowd and put his team ahead 16-13. Georgetown rode Govan’s play through the midway point of the first half as the big man scored eight straight points, but the game remained tight. With under seven minutes to go in the half, graduate student guard Trey Dickerson pulled up for a rainbow three pointer and freshman guard Jahvon Blair followed with a pair of free throws to put the Hoyas up seven. Georgetown had a chance to take control going into the half, but the Musketeers scored eight points in a span of two minutes and pulled the game within two at the break.

Despite a scoreless first half from their star guard, senior Trevon Bluiett, the Musketeers remained competitive as Macura and freshman forward Naji Marshall both reached double-digit scoring before the break. Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing spoke with reporters about his opponent’s depth.

“Bluiett didn’t have as big an impact on the game as he did [in Cincinnati],”  said Ewing. “But it’s like I told the guys: ‘He’s just part of the team.’ They have a good team. They have other guys that can step up which they showed tonight.”

Bluiett scored his first and only points of the night on a jumper that tied the game coming out of halftime. It remained a back-and-forth affair early in the second half, despite Georgetown shooting over 60 percent from the field at the under-16 timeout. After Pickett’s fifth three pointer of the night put the Hoyas up three, the Musketeers went on their best run of the night, blanking Georgetown 12-0 over a five minute span.

Mack emphasized the strength of his team’s execution during that pivotal stretch of play. “I just told our guys we’re starting to get some separation. We’re getting some stops,” he said. “It started in those two areas: keeping the ball in front of us in transition and then making sure that it was a war for [junior forward] Marcus [Derrickson] and Jessie [Govan] in the post.”

Despite relinquishing their lead and then some, the Hoyas fought back, as Pickett grabbed his own rebound, dribbled out of trouble, and found freshman guard Jahvon Blair at the top of the key for a three pointer to bring them within five points with nine minutes to go. Georgetown was unable to get any closer for the remainder of the game though, and five minutes later, Xavier expanded its lead to 14 with back-to-back threes from Marshall and sophomore guard Quentin Goodin. The Musketeers closed out the game with solid free throw shooting, making 14-16 at the line in the second half to secure their 25th victory of the season with plenty of breathing room.

Mack was satisfied with his team’s performance after a tough loss to No. 3 Villanova (24-3, 11-3 Big East) last time out. “As the game progressed, I thought we executed, kept our turnovers for the most part to a minimum,” he said. “Good win for our team.”

Pickett and Marshall each led the way for their respective teams with 21 points apiece. For Xavier, Macura and Goodin notched 20 and 19 points, respectively. For Georgetown, Govan chipped in a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but his frontcourt partner, Derrickson, was noticeably quiet with just nine points and four boards.

Ewing made note of Derrickson’s underwhelming performance after the game. “Marcus didn’t play one of his games that he normally plays and that hurts.” he said. “If both he and Jessie are not having monster games for us, we’re not going to be effective.”

Georgetown will look to recover on Saturday at home against Providence (17-10, 8-6 Big East). Tip-off is slated for 12 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Follow @GUVoiceSports for game day updates and breaking news.

Aaron Wolf
Former Sports Executive and 2020 Georgetown College graduate. Enjoyer of OPS.

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