WASHINGTON, D.C.---One of the last undefeated teams in the nation, the 8th ranked Xavier Musketeers are making a serious case to be a one seed in the NCAA Tournament this season. And with a revenge showdown on the horizon against No. 1 Villanova next week, a great opportunity to make a statement before the Big East Tournament, which transpires the second week of March, was in the hands of Chris Mack's squad. However, before what is bound to be a sell out crowd inside the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Xavier had business to attend to versus the Georgetown Hoyas.
In a game in which they shot 52.8% from the floor, the Musketeers showcased their offensive talents to shellac Georgetown 88-70. "Fab freshman" Edmond Sumner had 22 of the 88 points on the day while James Farr and J.P. Macura added 14 and 12 respectively off the bench.
Giving their opponent all they wanted early, the Hoyas jumped out to a 4-point edge on a layup by Marcus Derrickson (12-8 GEO).
However, Xavier's Sumner quickly evened the playing field with baskets on back-to-back possessions (a deuce and trey) to seize back the lead at 13-12. Furthermore, the best team from Cincinnati was able to get to the charity stripe and connect on free throws to up their advantage to multiple possessions (19-14 XAV).
Later, Macura chipped in four unanswered before Sumner had two more to move the lead to a half-high 11 with 6:30 remaining until halftime (27-16 XAV). Though, it would not stay at such a margin for the Hoyas' Reggie Cameron and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera began to find the bottom of the net with a total of 10 points in a 12-2 run that pulled them within one (31-30 XAV).
Although the Musketeers took a 35-33 lead into the locker room, Georgetown was in a position to pull off the upset on Saturday afternoon.
Xavier, starting with a triple by Trevon Bluiett (13 points), began a 13-0 domination at the commencement of the second. 48-33 Musketeers!
Despite Georgetown's Smith-Rivera and Campbell posting points with back-to-back three-pointers, the home team continued to tickle the twine with great frequency, which did not permit the Hoyas to pull any closer than nine (48-39 XAV).
Actually, from the freshly single-digit advantage, Xavier's offense did turn off the faucet to an extent considering they only added 40 more points the rest of the contest. Unfortunately for their adversary, they only netted 33 during the same time span. Therefore, this one was over and the Musketeers were heading into a primetime matchup with Villanova hotter than they could have ever imagined.
Playing Their Best Basketball
As one of the best teams for the entire season, the case can be made that the Xavier Musketeers hit their peak in performances at the Advocare Invitational versus USC and Dayton or right before the start of conference play.
But, who says it isn't right now!
Granted, a loss to a Doug McDermott-less Creighton Blue Jays squad is inexcusable--even if it was in Omaha--but the way Mack's group has rebounded with wins over Butler, Providence, and now Georgetown proves the aforementioned. How?
Xavier is shooting over 51% percent in their last three, including today, while out-rebounding opponents by over four boards per game. During the span, a broad scoring attack, as usual, has been utilized, for five players are averaging over nine points per bout (Sumner, Bluiett, Remy Abell, Myles Davis, and Macura).
24-3 (12-3) Xavier takes on Villanova on Wednesday.
As of now, John Thompson III's Georgetown Hoyas are no where close to obtaining an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. So that proposes the question: Is Georgetown bound to head to the NIT for the second straight season?
The correct answer is yes.
Baring a magnificent run at MSG, the Hoyas will be in the National Invitational Tournament. Think about it, even if they won out in the regular season, they would be 17-14 with their best non-conference win being versus Syracuse. The 2015-16 season shall be marked as horrific in our nation's capital.
14-14 (7-8) Georgetown has the week off before hosting Butler a week from Saturday.