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Hoyas, Eagles Going in Opposite Directions

Sophomore guard Chris Wright and Georgetown have lost six of their last eight games after a 10-1 start.
Sophomore guard Chris Wright and Georgetown have lost six of their last eight games after a 10-1 start. (By Nick Wass -- Associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2009; Page E03

There are numerous ways to quantify the advantage one basketball team has over another. Shooting percentage, rebounding average, scoring defense, steals and assists are but a few.

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But some qualities -- such as confidence, momentum and home-court advantage -- defy statistical analysis.

So does experience.

Today's game between No. 25 Georgetown (12-7, 3-5 Big East) and No. 8 Marquette (18-2, 7-0) offers a case study in all those intangibles.

Marquette is bristling with confidence, riding a 10-game winning streak; reveling in fan support, having won 14 consecutive games at Milwaukee's Bradley Center; and rich in experience, starting a close-knit lineup of four seniors and a junior.

Georgetown, by contrast, lacks on all counts after losing its last four games.

The latest defeat -- to unranked Cincinnati, 65-57, on Wednesday -- also sent the Hoyas' leading scorer, DaJuan Summers, to the bench in the first half with an injury.

Listed as day-to-day because of a strained muscle in his left foot, Summers may miss today's game. His absence from the lineup (or even a reduced role) couldn't have come at a worse time.

After bolting to a 10-1 start, the Hoyas likely have squandered any hope of a third consecutive Big East regular season title by losing six of the eight games that followed. Now a berth in the NCAA tournament might be in jeopardy.

Widely regarded as the country's most competitive conference this season, the Big East could get a record nine or even 10 tournament berths. At the moment, Georgetown is tied with Notre Dame for 10th in the conference standings, having lost its only game against the Fighting Irish earlier this month.

"We're at the point now where obviously our backs are against the wall," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said this week. "We have to evaluate and reevaluate everything. We have to do everything significantly better than we are now."

It will be difficult for the Hoyas to take an appreciable step forward without Summers, particularly against the most prolific offense in the conference.

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