A quick trip home? Or a date with destiny?
The Georgetown men’s basketball team (15-14, 5-13 Big East) looks to achieve the latter as they take on St. John’s (15-16, 4-14 Big East) in a rematch of last year’s first-round contest on Wednesday night in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas have lost four in a row, with their most recent setback coming at the hands of No. 2 Villanova (27-4, 14-4 Big East), 97-73 at Wells Fargo Arena on March 3. The Johnnies have lost three of four and last fell to Providence (19-12, 10-8 Big East) 61-57 on the road.
Neither Georgetown nor St. John’s is a threat to make the NCAA Tournament, barring a Big East Tournament championship. However, postseason play remains a distinct possibility for the Hoyas and Johnnies, provided they finish with an overall winning record.
Georgetown was short-handed against Villanova, as they played the Wildcats without their second-leading scorer, junior forward Marcus Derrickson, due to an ankle injury.
“Not having Marcus hurt. It’s hard to play a great team like Villanova without one of your best players,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said.
Junior center Jessie Govan picked up the slack in place of Derrickson, going for a season-high 30 points and eight rebounds, but it was not enough to slow down the Wildcats. Outside of Govan, the Hoyas shot just 16-46 from the field, failing to muster a serviceable second scoring option. Georgetown could not stop the Villanova offense either, as the Wildcats shot a blistering 57 percent from the field, converted 14 of 31 three-pointers, and made all 13 of their free throw attempts.
While St. John’s does not pose half the defensive challenge that Villanova did, the Johnnies have demonstrated that they are capable of scoring. The Johnnies have knocked off then-No. 4 Duke, a top-ranked Villanova on the road, as well as mid-tier teams such as Butler (19-12, 9-9 Big East) and Marquette (18-12, 9-9 Big East). St. John’s is led by electric sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds, who leads the Big East with 21.6 points per game but has missed the last two games due to injury. The Johnnies are also a strong defensive team, ranking 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
The Hoyas and Johnnies have faced off twice this season, with Georgetown prevailing in both matchups. The Hoyas first prevailed 69-66 on January 9 at Madison Square Garden, thanks in part to an 18 point, 13 rebound performance from Govan. On January 20, Georgetown won the second match-up, a 93-89 double-overtime thriller. Derrickson scored 27 points, including a clutch, contested three-pointer to tie the game and send it into a second overtime. The Hoyas had no answers for Ponds, who torched the Georgetown defense to the tune of 33 points on 12-23 shooting.
The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FS1. Follow @GUVoiceSports for game day updates and breaking news for men’s basketball and all Georgetown sports.
Image Credits: Georgetown Sports Information