“He is day-to-day,” Ewing said Tuesday. “And he will not play — I don’t think he’ll be playing tomorrow, but hopefully on Saturday [against DePaul]."
Georgetown is hoping to conjure up some of the defensive magic that spurred it to a win without McClung on Sunday. The Hoyas (13-9, 3-6) trailed the Red Storm by 17 before roaring back to win, 73-72, at Madison Square Garden for their first conference road victory of the season.
The win was a confidence-builder for an already undermanned Georgetown team, which had played without McClung on the road once before this season, when the guard was out with an eye injury on New Year’s Eve. That game was a disaster, a 76-60 loss against Providence in which the Hoyas trailed by 31 at halftime.
On Sunday, the Hoyas weren’t nearly as shaken when St. John’s took an early lead. Ewing used different defenses to change the pace of the game in the second half, and junior guard Jahvon Blair came up with 23 points, shooting 9 for 19 from the floor. Without McClung, the Hoyas’ starting five accounted for 72 of the team’s 73 points and all but 14 of the 200 available minutes of playing time.
“We mixed up our defense in the second half. We played zone, we trapped. We tried the big lineup, we went small. We did everything,” Ewing said Tuesday. “ . . . To me, it was one of our best wins. To come back from 17 down, the way that we weren’t making shots, and then to end it on a stop, that says a lot.”
They’ll need all of that — fluid offense, savvy defense and nerve — on Wednesday against Seton Hall (16-5, 8-1), even though the Pirates could be dealing with injury issues of their own. They lost at home to Xavier on Saturday, a 74-62 defeat that bumped them out of the top 10, snapped a 10-game winning streak and may have cost them more than just a game.
Starting point guard Quincy McKnight was helped off the floor in the second half after injuring his left knee. The Pirates announced Monday that his MRI exam came back clean and that McKnight, the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, is day-to-day. He did not practice Monday, according to the New York Post.
With or without McKnight, Georgetown will be leaning on 7-foot center Omer Yurtseven to lead the defense. The Hoyas will need a stronger effort even than the one they turned in Sunday.
The Pirates have better individual talent than the Red Storm and bigger players. They’re led by Myles Powell, a leading candidate for Big East player of the year honors who averages 21.4 points, and they have two bruising bigs in 6-foot-11 Sandro Mamukelashvili and 7-2 Romaro Gill. Ewing speaks particularly highly of Gill, whom Georgetown recruited out of high school.
At Seton Hall, Gill has been a nuisance to the rest of the Big East. He bothered the Hoyas all night in the teams’ previous meeting, a 78-62 Georgetown loss on Jan. 3 in which he led the Pirates with 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
“It’s not just [Powell]; they have a host of talented guys on that team, and they play together as a team,” Ewing said. “They defend, they rebound, they have shot blocking — they have two guys that can protect the rim — so we have our work cut out for us.”
On offense, the Hoyas need Blair and the other starters to help make up for McClung’s scoring absence.
“It changes [the game] a lot because [McClung] is an aggressive scorer for us, somebody that we look to a lot to get points, but now we have to all come together and pick up for his absence,” point guard Terrell Allen said. “Jahvon did a great job last game. Credit to him. He was big for us last game. He showed up. We just need him to keep playing that high level. We need everyone to keep playing that high level.”