With their NCAA tournament aspirations on the ropes, the Hoyas made good on the junior's declaration from less than 24 hours earlier, opening a cavernous lead in the second half and ensuring there would be no repeat collapse against Xavier in a 74-52 victory Saturday in front of an announced 11,854 at Verizon Center.
In the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 15, Georgetown was unable to preserve a 17-point lead shortly after intermission and failed to score over the final 6 minutes 14 seconds during an 80-67 loss. This time, the Hoyas held their first-year Big East opponent without a field goal for nearly 13 minutes in the second half and went up by 25 with 4:48 left in regulation to end a two-game slide and move within a game of .500 in conference play.
“It’s almost the exact opposite of what I said after the last game,” Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said, referring to Thursday night’s 82-67 loss at Seton Hall. “I think that our effort, our attention to detail, our concentration was pretty good for 40 minutes, and I think we came out of the box and set the tone early.”
In winning for a third straight time at home following its quickest turnaround this season, Georgetown (16-11, 7-8) committed a season-low three turnovers — “I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a team that did that,” Thompson said — and shot 52 percent while outrebounding Xavier, 26-21. The Hoyas were on the short end in rebounding to Xavier in the first game, 36-25.
The Hoyas got a game-high 22 points from Markel Starks and 13 from Trawick, who made his first start since Jan. 8 after breaking his jaw during a 70-52 loss at Providence. The junior had been coming off the bench since re-entering the lineup Jan. 27 against Villanova, but the Hoyas’ recent issues with slow starts compelled Thompson to start the high-energy guard-forward in place of freshman Reggie Cameron.
The move paid dividends immediately after tip-off, when Georgetown opened a double-digit lead and forced the third-place team in the Big East to futilely chase the rest of the way. Trawick made a three-pointer during the early surge, and when D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera sank a three-pointer, the Hoyas had an 11-point advantage in less than five minutes.
“I knew that we needed to get off to a good start, and I knew that with Coach putting me back in the starting lineup, that was the reason why,” said Trawick, who made 5 of 8 shots and added four assists and three rebounds. “We got off to a couple slow starts the last couple of games, so we wanted to come out and be the aggressors and set the tone.”
The lead in a game that tipped off shortly after 11:30 a.m. expanded to 29-15 on the heels of a 10-0 flurry minutes later that included a highlight-reel alley-oop pass from Starks to backup forward Aaron Bowen for a two-handed dunk.
The Hoyas closed the half by scoring the final eight points in a row, with six of those coming at the foul line. Xavier (18-9, 8-6) never drew closer than 11 points in the second half, when Georgetown limited the Musketeers to 35 percent shooting and 20 percent (1 of 5) from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 18 points, making all five of his field goal attempts but committing three of his team’s 11 turnovers that led to 20 points for Georgetown. Forward Justin Martin had 13 points and four rebounds and center Matt Stainbrook added 12 points and three rebounds for Xavier, which has lost two of three.
“I think we did a very good job of taking care of the basketball today across the board, and I think attention to detail was there today,” Starks said. “We missed that at times throughout the year.”