Talk about a plan paying off and quickly.
Georgetown entered Saturday's home game versus Xavier with a two-game losing streak and its NCAA Tournament hopes on life support. The setbacks at Saint John's and Seton Hall included slow start components. Seeking an energy solution, coach John Thompson III changed his starting lineup against the Musketeers.
The inclusion of daring guard Jabril Trawick worked as hoped. This was clear even before the first official timeout.
The Hoyas took the lead for good as Trawick assisted on the first basket and scored their third off his own offensive rebound. The junior followed that with a 3-pointer for a 9-3 lead. His feed to Mikael Hopkins led directly to Georgetown's next score for a 13-5 advantage four minutes in.
Others contributed in the Hoyas 74-52 victory, as Markel Starks scored 22 points and the defense held Xavier without a field goal for nearly 13 minutes in the second half. Trawick's spirited effort from the opening tip helped set the assertive and winning tone.
"Quite honestly, it has a huge impact," Thompson said of giving Trawick his first since the guard returned from a broken jaw on Jan. 27. "Just when he is on the court, we're a better team."
Trawick finished with 13 points, his fourth straight game scoring in double figures. Georgetown lacks point-producing options outside of Starks, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Trawick. All three started earlier in the season until Trawick missed five games due to injury. When the Philadelphia native returned, Thompson brought him off the bench to help the scoring challenged reserves.
"I like bringing him off the bench because we were getting a fusion off the bench," Thompson said. "But we were just getting too many slow starts. We risk not having as much coming off the bench, but it turned out okay today and we are probably going to stick with it."
The Hoyas (16-11, 7-8) remain in a precarious position for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Losing to Xavier would have ended all hope, another reason why change came when he did.
The beauty of Trawick's aggressive style, which his coach previously said provides courage for the other Hoyas, is it's there no matter his role.
"I come out and play the same way every time," Trawick said. "I knew that we needed to get off to a good start and I knew that coach put me back into the starting lineup to start the aggressiveness and start the game off strong, and that’s what we did."
Trawick made 5 of 8 field goal attempts against Xavier with four assists and three rebounds. He also made 2 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc after entering with only six 3's on the season.
"I know what I’m capable of. It is just about being confident," Trawick said of his perimeter shooting. "I know that a lot of teams may come out here and try to throw me off of my game, but I just try and stay aggressive."
What the Hoyas also did was to focus early and stay focused throughout, especially defensively after allowing Saint John's and Seton Hall to shoot over 50 percent from the field. After Matt Stainbrook's layup with 17:17 left in the second, the Musketeers went without a basket until 4:41 remained. By the point Georgetown led by 25 points.
"It's almost the exact opposite of what I said [after Seton Hall loss]," Thompson said. "I think that our effort, our attention to detail, our concentration was pretty good for 40 minutes. I think we came out of the box and set the tone early."
Also contrary, the result against Xavier. Georgetown lost 80-67 in Cincinnati on January 15 despite holding a 42-29 halftime lead and a 17-point margin with 15 minutes left in the second half.
"At halftime I mentioned it" Thompson said of the previous collapse. "To be honest, I didn’t realize what the exact score was of the first game but I told them that we had a big lead just like this in the first game. I think we came out in the second half and reestablished ourselves, reestablished our energy."
On this day, having Trawick in the mix from the start certainly helped.