What to expect: Georgetown; a consolation game that matters

For the second time in four days, Virginia Commonwealth University will rematch an opponent they beat en route to the 2011 Final Four.

  • What: VCU (4-1, 0-0) vs. Georgetown (2-2, 0-0)
  • Where: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • When: Sunday, November 23rd at 2:00 PM
  • Watch: ESPNU/ESPN3

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The Rundown

For the second time in four days, Virginia Commonwealth University will rematch an opponent they beat en route to the 2011 Final Four. By the time the Rams played Florida State in the Sweet 16, the nation had already fallen in love with Coach Smart and HAVOC!. When VCU played Georgetown they were still the team that didn’t belong in the tourney that had beaten USC in Dayton. VCU pounded Georgetown 74-56 and Brandon Rozzell finished with 26 points. The win started turning heads. Three seasons later, a lot has changed for #10 VCU.

VCU and Georgetown suffered embarrassing losses on Friday. Georgetown struggled against Northeastern’s 3-2 zone and lost 63-56. They responded by scoring 1.36 points per possession while pounding Kansas State 90-63. While this game is labeled a consolation game, it could have implications for the teams come March. More importantly, it’s an opportunity for one team to leave Puerto Rico with momentum.

The Team

Georgetown is a very creative defensive team. They’ll press, they’ll play man-to-man defense, and they’ll play a punishing 2-3 zone. VCU struggled when Florida State pressed them on Thursday. Expect the Hoyas to send a defender at Briante Weber well past half-court.

The Hoyas also have plenty of size including 6-foot-10, 350 pound Joshua Smith. Keeping the game in transition will limit the effect of Smith. If 3-pointers aren’t falling, VCU could struggle against the size and length of Georgetown’s players in the 2-3 zone.

Georgetown’s opponents have struggled with turnovers and making shots, but they have cleaned up the glass and have gotten to the free-throw line. VCU is a great offensive rebounding team and free-throws stop the game and give VCU an opportunity to set up the press in addition to scoring.

The Hoyas also have some offensive talent. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks are an extremely talented backcourt and Joshua Smith is one of the most unique big men in the country. Georgetown is hitting 57% of their 2-pointers, but they struggle from 3-point range where they are shooting 30.3%. Less than one-fifth of the Hoyas’ points come from 3-pointers.

The Star: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

32.8 MPG, 17.3 PPG, .421 3PFG%

Smith-Rivera is having a breakout sophomore campaign. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he’s the type of strong guard that thrives under John Thompson III. He was limited to 5 points in the Hoyas’ season opening loss to Oregon. In their last three games, he is averaging 21.3 points per game. Georgetown looks like a different team when his shots are falling. Stopping him needs to be a top priority on Sunday.

Supporting Cast

#5 Markel Starks (PG, Senior) • Starks is a great point guard who is extremely responsible with the basketball. He hit 63 3-pointers last season while shooting .417, but his shot has been falling this season. The Hoyas desperately need a second 3-point shooter. If he starts hitting his shot again, it is going to transform Georgetown’s offense.

#55 Jabril Trawick (G, Junior)• Trawick adds great size on the perimeter and he is a great on ball defender. He is 10 of 12 from 2-point range this season, but he is struggling from 3-point range.

#34 Nate Lubick (F, Senior) • Lubick is a good defender and he runs the floor well, but he is turning over the ball at a crazy rate. He is turning over the ball on possessions three times as often as Treveon Graham.

#24 Joshua Smith (C, Junior) • Smith transferred to Georgetown after two successful seasons at UCLA. He’s 6-foot-10, weighs 350 pounds, and he is surprisingly quick (for someone of that size). He’s one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation, he’s a great shot-blocker, and he’s averaging 7.5 free-throw attempts per game while only playing 18.8 minutes. Smith’s minutes and endurance could be tested on Sunday because it’s his third game in four days, but he will have a huge impact every second he is on the court.

#3 Mikael Hopkins (F, Junior) • Hopkins is a monstrous rebounder and shot-blocker. When he comes off the bench to replace Smith, Georgetown is much quicker and they are better in transition.

The Prediction

Ken Pomeroy picks Georgetown to win 75-74 with a 48% chance of victory. If VCU’s 3-point shooting woes continue, they will struggle to beat Georgetown.

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Georgetown Profile

  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Enrollment: 17,130
  • Conference: Big East
  • All time series: VCU leads 2-0.
  • Last meeting: 3/18/2011. VCU won 74-56.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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