Gary Williams on Maryland, Georgetown and GW
Matchup: Georgetown (9-3; 1-0 Big East) vs. St. John's (9-4, 0-1),
When: Saturday, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Washington, D.C, Verizon Center
Broadcast: TV - FS1; Radio - 570 AM.
Last time out: Markel Starks played all 40 minutes and scored 21 points as the Hoyas held to DePaul to 32.7 percent shooting from the field for a 61-54 win on Tuesday night. On the same day, St. John's lost 70-60 at Xavier.
History: Those loving notable numbers will love that this latest matchup with St. John's will be the 100th all-time. SJU leads the head-to-head series 53-46, thought the Hoyas have had the advantage in recent years, sporting a 12-4 record against the Red Storm since the 2004-05 season.
KenPom: Georgetown 33, St. John's 61
Coaches: Georgetown - John Thompson III; St. John's Steve Lavin
Leaders: Scoring (Markel Starks, 16.3), Rebounding (Nate Lubick, 6.3), Assists (Starks, 4.3)
Center of attention: Georgetown coach John Thompson III sent out center Moses Ayegba to open the second half against DePaul over starter Joshua Smith. He ranks third on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg) and is making a staggering 69.2 percent of his field goal attempts, but the 6-foot-10, 350-pound Smith has been a liability defensively and on the boards. Over his last four games, just five rebounds. By comparison, the 6-foot-2 Smith-Rivera had eight against DePaul. Ayegba's final stats versus the Blue Demons (three blocks, one rebound) do not adequately depict his impact or the energy provided. Smith, who played 14 minutes against DePaul, likely starts again St. John's, but now we have an understanding that Thompson will pull this big man if the hustle plays aren't there.
Starks: Talk of the senior guard enduring a shooting slump no longer exists, replaced by mention of an impressive point-producing run. Starks has tied or led the Hoyas in scoring in each of their last four games, averaging 19 points and taking over the team lead from D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera in that span. He averaged 14.5 points and 44.0 assists in Georgetown's two wins over St. John's last season. Both guards could be in line for potent numbers of the Red Storm stick to their usual man-to-man defensive schemes.
[RELATED: Ironman Starks leads Hoyas past DePaul]
Rim protectors: The Red Storm block shots and lots of them, 9.5 per game. That doesn't just lead the country but dwarfs all others. Only one other team (Green Bay) averages at least eight. 6-foot-9 sophomore Chris Opekba does most of the swatting with 4.4 blocks in 22 minutes per game, though Orlando Sanchez and Sir'Dominic Pointer also average more than one each contest. That makes for an interesting matchup with Smith, who leads the Big East in field goal percentage shooting, and the Hoyas penetrating guards. By comparison, Georgetown averages four blocks per game.
Harrison vs. Hoyas: St. John's Junior D'Angelo Harrison ranks third among Big East scorers with 19.6 points per game. That includes 21 points versus No. 2 Syracuse and 27 against Wisconsin in the season opener. The 6-foot-3 guard drains shots from beyond the arc but also gets to the free throw line nearly seven times per game. Harrison has reached double-digit points in every game this season and 21 of his last 25. However, he was held to seven and two points respectively in matchups versus Georgetown last season. The actual shooting stats versus the Hoyas are even uglier; 0 for 9 from the field including six attempts from beyond the arc last February 2 at the Verizon Center. Combined Harrison shot 3 of 21 while missing all 11 of his 3-point tries.
On deck: After opening conference play with two home games, the Hoyas will play three straight on the road; at Providence (1/8), Butler (1/11) and Xavier (1/15). Georgetown lost its only true road game this season at Kansas.