Rushed Reactions: Xavier 65, Georgetown 63

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 14th, 2015

rushedreactions

Three Key Takeaways.

Another Disappointing March Moment for the Hoyas (USA Today Images)

Another Disappointing March Moment for the Hoyas (USA Today Images)

  1. Xavier is putting everything together at the right time. With a championship game against Villanova coming up and the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, Xavier has played as well as any team in the conference. The Musketeers’ post defense still continues to struggle with interior positioning but shifting to a zone has helped Chris Mack’s team better contest jump shots and get into the passing lanes. This tweak in defensive approach has kept Xavier competitive in their games against top-tier defensive clubs like Butler and Georgetown. Both Matt Stainbrook and sophomore big man Jalen Reynolds have been playing their best basketball of the season, forcing opposing defenses to collapse on the duo and leaving the shooters open.
  2. Xavier is a matchup nightmare for Georgetown. Xavier had an inconsistent Big East season, going 9-9 in conference play and sweeping just two of the nine teams it faced. And while the Musketeers lost games to DePaul, Creighton and Seton Hall, one of those two season sweeps was over Georgetown, which they defeated by an average of 15 points per game. In tonight’s third matchup of the year, the result was more of the same until a late Georgetown run closed the gap in the last eight minutes of play. Stainbrook and Reynolds in particular were a handful for Georgetown’s big men and the team’s rapid ball movement around the perimeter left the Hoyas out of position on numerous plays. For whatever reason, Georgetown failed to successfully attack Xavier’s zone for the first 30 minutes of the game and a 21-point deficit ultimately proved insurmountable.
  3. Georgetown’s Big East Tournament performance left something to be desired. The recent stretch for Georgetown hasn’t been pretty. After struggling to knock off Seton Hall last weekend, the Hoyas pieced together a scrappy win over Creighton in the final minute yesterday before falling way behind against Xavier. Yes, the Hoyas put on a late run when it found a number of good shots, but the overall trend isn’t encouraging. It’s a bad time to be faltering and there are numerous concerns about Georgetown on the offensive end of the floor. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has had too many cold stretches; Joshua Smith picks up too many fouls; and the rising freshmen have a tendency to disappear. Is Georgetown facing another embarrassing opening round NCAA Tournament defeat next week?

Player of the Game. Matt Stainbrook, Xavier. The 6’10” senior had 14 points at halftime, including a buzzer-beatin tip-in, and finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds. Few opposing big men have successfully conquered Georgetown in the post, but Stainbrook used his crafty hook shot to successfully score over Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith. Post presence has been a major contributor to Xavier’s success at MSG this week, routinely providing balance to the outside shooting of the Dee Davis, Remy Abell and JP Macura. After tallying a highly efficient 13 points and 10 rebounds against Butler, Stainbrook showed no sign of backing down against the bigger Hoyas and entered into all-out takeover mode for several key stretches of tonight’s game. There is no question that he will be a significant x-factor in the championship game against Villanova.

Quotable.

  • “As a coach, I’ve only been involved in one other game like that, that I can remember.” — Xavier head coach Chris Mack on the drama that unfolded when Xavier nearly surrendered a 20-point lead in the final 7:53 of play.
  • “It means a heck of a lot… it’s been a long journey.” — Mack, on how it feels to be playing in the Big East championship.
  • “We just wanted to make sure that we kept our team calm and that weren’t going to implode on ourselves.” — Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook, on keeping the team in check amid Georgetown’s 30-12 run to close the game.
  • “He’s good, he’s a very good player… he makes the right decisions, whether it be for himself or for his teammates. Stopping him is difficult… and they play through him in so many different ways. He’s a good player not just because of his size or skill level, but because of his acuity.” — Georgetown head coach John Thompson III, on Matt Stainbrook’s level of play tonight.
  • “Everything about Xavier is tough. They have interior presence… and then they have perimeter guys that can shoot. The Davis boys make sure that everyone gets the ball when they should… they’re a very very balanced team.” — Thompson III, on what makes Xavier a tough team to play.

Sights and Sounds. It was a typical Friday night Big East Tournament crowd. With Villanova and Georgetown both in town, fans filled the Madison Square Garden seats. Helping the situation was that both games were incredibly close throughout, keeping them active and engaged, and let’s just say that the Georgetown student section had a lot to discuss with the referees. Regardless of conference realignment, the last two Big East Tournaments have proven that the event will draw great crowds year in and year out.

What’s Next. Xavier will live to see another day in the Big East Tournament after facing two consecutive scares. The Musketeers will face off against top-seeded Villanova for a third time this season after losing both regular season contests. Xavier, in only its second year in the league, will have a chance to win its first championship, whereas longtime member Villanova will be seeking its first tournament title since 1995. The overwhelming question will be whether Xavier can find a way to contain Villanova’s offensive firepower, particularly in the form of their outside shooting.

Justin Kundrat (166 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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