Stopping 'Paint Touches' key to Hoyas stopping Marquette

Stopping 'Paint Touches' key to Hoyas stopping Marquette
February 26, 2014, 7:15 pm
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Georgetown seeks key win vs. Marquette

Georgetown's dominant 74-52 win over Xavier last Saturday at the Verizon Center kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The victory also helped beat back bad memories of an earlier loss to the Musketeers.

Another shot at redemption and a résumé building victory comes Thursday at Marquette.

Back on Jan. 20, the Hoyas (16-11, 7-8 Big East) suffered an 80-72 overtime setback to the Golden Eagles. Every loss stings. This pain stood out. Georgetown led 56-49 with 4:54 remaining, meaning the Hoyas were 4:54 away from snapping a two-game losing streak and earning a win without the injured Jabril Trawick and the ineligible Joshua Smith.

Instead, Marquette rallied by draining two key 3-pointers including one to force the extra session, which it then controlled. Instead, the skid would reach five games and help put Georgetown in its current no-margin-for-error postseason scenario.

"At the end of the last game, they got a couple of uncontested long shots that went into the basket," coach John Thompson III recalled following Wednesday's practice at McDonough Arena.

What Thompson couldn't recall with any confidence was whether that setback marked a season-low point. He just remembers, "It was not fun."

For the Hoyas, neither has been playing in Milwaukee (9 p.m., FS1)

[RELATED: NCAA tournament projections: Is G'Town in?]

Georgetown has dropped four straight on the road in this series with its last away victory coming in overtime during the 2007-08 season.

The Golden Eagles (16-11, 8-6) have moved back into the NCAA Tournament at-large discussion by winning four of five games.

The key for the Hoyas defensively involves limiting Marquette's desired "Paint Touches," a program mantra referencing feeding the ball inside. Senior and true wide-body center Davante Gardner, the Golden Eagles leading scorer and rebounder, finished with 20 points in the previous meeting. Gardner scored 10 points in the final 5:29 and controlled the late stages from all angles.

"They have a post presence in particular with Gardner who can score, who can pass," Thompson said. "He's a veteran."

He can also put Georgetown's frontcourt into foul trouble, though others have done that as well. Junior center Mikael Hopkins has fouled out in three of the last six games.

Having the assertive Trawick around this time helps the cause on both ends of the court. The Hoyas could certainly use a third wheel offensively seeing as they lost the first meeting despite a combined 52 points from guards Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

"It was definitely a point where we were a little frustrated with those loses coming consecutive," Smith-Rivera said. "That was a game we thought we should have won, could have won. It was definitely a tough loss."

The opportunity to push that painful memory away while simultaneously keeping the postseason flame flickering for the Hoyas comes Thursday. While a loss won't truly end any NCAA hopes, it would be a body blow. Getting bodies on Gardner and any others seeking "Paint Touches" is how the Hoyas can avoid more pain.