Preview: Can Hoyas keep dominant run over St. John's?

Preview: Can Hoyas keep dominant run over St. John's?
February 16, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Matchup: Georgetown (15-9, 6-6 Big East) vs. St.John's (16-9, 6-6)

When: Sunday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Madison Square Garden

Broadcast: TV - FS1, Radio - 980 AM.

Streaks: The Hoyas have won their last four games including Monday's 83-71 victory over Providence. After opening Big East 0-5, the Red Storm have won four in a row and seven of eight.

History: The long-term view favors the Red Storm 53-47, but the Hoyas have won six straight in the series including 77-60 at the Verizon Center on January 4.

KenPom: Georgetown 59, DePaul 139

RPI: Georgetown 55, St. John's 57

Coaches: Georgetown - John Thompson III; St. John's Steve Lavin

Leaders: Hoyas - Scoring (D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, 17.1), Rebounding (Nate Lubick, 6.0), Assists (Markel Starks, 4.0); Red Storm - Scoring (D'Angelo Harrison, 18.0), Rebounding (Jakarr Sampson, 6.2), Assists (Rysheed Jordan, 3.2)

Links:

*Hoyas have handle on defending St. John's leading man, D'Angelo Harrison

*No point in looking back for Hoyas, St. John's

What's at stake: Starting with Butler on Feb 8, the NCAA Tournament scenario played out like this: Georgetown goes 3-1 in its next four games, then a 2-2 split over the much tougher final four. That would mean evening its conference record and likely putting together a strong enough resume for an at-large bid. So far so good as the Hoyas have knocked off Butler and Providence. We can't call this an elimination game, but neither side can afford a loss after starting off conference play with several. Both teams have put themselves in position to finish as a top-4 seed come Big East Tournament time, but also to receive an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Georgetown sweeping the regular season series would certainly help with any future tiebreakers, either real or perceived, with the Red Storm. 

Dominance: The long-time rivalry has been rather one-sided of late. Not just because of Georgetown's winning streak but the margin of victory. Each of the last five victories has been by at least 10 points including 67-51 last season.

Free throws: For a team lacking natural scorers outside of the backcourt pairing of Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks, generating attempts from the foul line is a much. During the stretch of six losses in seven games, the Hoyas took fewer free throws than their opponents did each time. Over the last four games, all wins, Georgetown has won the free battle each time and taken 90 total over the last three. Since Jan. 18, Smith-Rivera has made 53 of 56 from the line.

Welcome back: Everyone knows the Hoyas defense and overall energy suffered when Jabril Trawick missed five games in January with a broken jaw. What was perhaps less obvious at the time was how not having the physical 6-foot-4 guard affected the offense. The aggressive Trawick is both aggressive and a quality ball handler who can make the occasional 3-pointer. Without the junior, Thompson had no choice but to play Starks and Smith-Rivera heavy minutes. Trawick returned on Jan. 27 and played at least 22 minutes in the last four games, all wins. In those victories, he's averaged 10.8 points, 3.5 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field.