Men’s basketball struggles on the offensive end as Creighton gets revenge

February 10, 2021

Photo by John Picker/The Georgetown Voice

The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (5-10, 3-7 Big East) saw old turnover problems resurface and fell 63-48 to the No. 19 Creighton Bluejays (15-5, 11-4 Big East) on Tuesday. On a night in which senior guard Jahvon Blair and senior forward Jamorko Pickett each could have reached 1,000 career points, it was Creighton’s upperclassmen who shined instead. Junior forward Christian Bishop dominated the paint on his way to 17 points and 9 rebounds. Senior forward Damien Jefferson and senior guard Mitch Ballock contributed 12 points and 14 points respectively, and the latter set a career high with 4 steals as well. For Georgetown, Pickett notched a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Bluejays came out ready to avenge last week’s loss to the Hoyas, immediately getting to the rim twice through Jefferson. After the Hoyas second turnover in as many possessions and a dunk from Bishop, head coach Patrick Ewing was forced into a quick timeout.

Ewing remarked on the turnover problems and poor decision-making, “we just weren’t ready to play tonight. We didn’t play with the same energy and the same effort that we did the first time we played them.” 

Coming out of the early stoppage the teams picked up the pace and the three ball began to drop. Graduate forward Chudier Bile knocked down two and the backcourt duo of senior guard Jahvon Blair and freshman guard Dante Harris each connected on one. However, the interior defense remained problematic. Creighton was 9/13 from the field at the under 16 timeout with Jefferson, Bishop, and Ballock combining for 17 quick points.

The hot outside shooting was short lived for the home team. Poor shot selection led to 10 straight misses and an over 4 minute scoring drought, allowing Creighton to extend their lead to 22-14. Midway through the half Georgetown was shooting just 25% from the field. 

Despite momentarily cutting the lead to 3 as Creighton fell into a slump of their own, the offensive woes hit the Hoyas again. Led by Bishop, the Bluejays enjoyed a 9-0 run during a near 6 minute scoring drought for Georgetown. Sophomore center Qudus Wahab was hesitant on the glass at both ends for the majority of the half due to picking up two early fouls, and Ballock and senior guard Marcus Zegarowski were each able to pull down important offensive boards leading to points. 

Bishop credited his big night to the effort and distribution of the guards. He said their penetration meant it “was easy to get easy layups.” More generally, the junior credited the team’s success to “play[ing] harder and a little bit faster.”

The game further deteriorated heading into the half with old problems rearing their ugly head for Georgetown. The Hoyas were outscored 9-0 off of turnovers for the half and had 10 in the final 9 minutes. They went into the break perhaps lucky to be down only 12 with the score at 33-21.

The second half started the same way the first ended, as Creighton got to the rim while Georgetown settled for contested threes. The Bluejay guards seemed undeterred by the size as they continued to attack Wahab and Pickett off the dribble. As a result, Ewing was forced into calling a timeout before the under 16 minute timeout yet again with the deficit now at 17 points.

Pickett kept the Hoyas within striking distance with two big threes answering a near 30 footer from Ballock who was given far too much room from deep all night. This was particularly inexcusable as the rest of the team shot only 2/16 from distance.  

After that short burst, the game began to get away from Ewing’s squad for good. The offense again went cold missing 14 out of 16 field goals and endured two separate scoring droughts which lasted over 3 minutes. At the 5 minute mark Creighton led 58-34 and Bishop and Ballock had combined for 29. 

The one positive from the night was Georgetown getting valuable time for some of their younger and more inexperienced players. Freshman forwards Jamari Sibley and Collin Holloway played the final 5 minutes as the game drew to a close. Creighton emptied the bench as well, getting oft-injured junior center Jacob Epperson some meaningful minutes. 

The Blue Jays ultimately triumphed 63-48, in what was a disappointing night for Georgetown. They ended one turnover shy of their season high with 24 and shot just 27.6% from the field. They were additionally outscored 38-12 in the paint as Wahab was completely neutralized. On a night when very little went well, the shot selection may have been the most concerning development. Turnovers have been a problem all year but the inability to get in the paint is new. The Hoyas have averaged over 15 free throw attempts per game on the year yet didn’t attempt one tonight until the 4:38 mark. Instead, they fired off 30 three point attempts connecting on under 30% of them.

Ewing did not mince words post-game in speaking about this problem. He called the game one of their worst performances of the season and chalked it up to simply making the wrong decisions. Instead of playing inside out the frustrated coach said, “We were just being selfish” and “were forcing the ball way too much instead of when the double team comes, make the right play.”

Georgetown will look to bounce back and finish off their short homestand strong as they welcome Butler (7-10, 6-8 Big East) to McDonough Arena on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network. For continued coverage of men’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.

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