DePaul Blue Demons vs. Georgetown Hoyas – Wednesday, March 9th, 6 p.m. Central – Madison Square Garden, New York City
Television – FOX Sports 1
Two years ago DePaul upset a higher-seeded Georgetown team in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Can they do it again?
Well, the two teams will face off once again in Madison Square Garden in the first round of the 2016 Big East Tournament, as the Hoyas (14-17, 7-11) will be the No. 8 seed, while the Demons (9-21, 3-15) will be the No.9-seed. The lucky— or should I say not-so-lucky— team will play the No.1 seed Villanova Wildcats in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
DePaul has not beaten Georgetown since that fateful March 12 night of 2014. The Hoyas took both contests this season; winning at DePaul, 70-58, in the Big East opener for both teams on December 30th and then garnering the sweep in D.C. 10 days later by beating the Demons, 74-63.
That said, these are not your father's Hoyas, as Georgetown has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country.
After making the NCAA Tournament last season and predicted to finish second in the Big East in the pre-season coaches poll, Georgetown—save for winning the Big East Tournament—will be shut out of the Big Dance for the second time in three years. Of course, two years ago it was the Demons win over the Hoyas in the Big East Tournament that likely was the death knell for Georgetown chances to get in.
If the Hoyas don't win the Big East Tournament, they will finish with a losing record, which is something unheard of at Georgetown. In fact, if the Hoyas indeed finish with a losing record it would be the first losing season under head coach John Thompson III in his 12 years on the job. The last time Georgetown finished under .500 was back in 2004 in Craig Esherick's last year as coach.
All that being said, don't expect Thompson and his Hoyas to roll over and play dead. With D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera playing in his final games as a senior, expect him to try to go out a winner.
After all, he leads the team in scoring (16.3 ppg, which also ranks third in the Big East), assists (4.6 apg) and steals (1.5 spg). Smith-Rivera was just named second team all-Big East.
Georgetown also gets solid production from a couple of sophomores in L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland. Peak (who went off for 31 points in Georgetown's most-recent loss to Villanova on Saturday) and Copeland average 12.2 and 11.4 points per game, respectively.
Ever since the Hoyas lost senior center Bradley Hayes, they have become discombobulated, as they have dropped all six games without him. Jessie Govan, who was just named to the all-Big East Freshmen Team, has stepped up of late at center and is averaging 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Any way you slice it though, the Hoyas are struggling and DePaul has a chance to end their season if it plays with the right mindset.
The Last Time
On January 9, 2016 at Verizon Center, the Hoyas emerged victorious.
After leading in the first half 30-28, the Blue Demons shot just 30.8 percent in the second half, as Georgetown (who shot 44 percent in the second half) asserted itself in the paint to out-muscle DePaul for a 74-63 victory.
It was a game that slipped away in the latter stages of the second half. And with frustrations running high, DePaul coach Dave Leitao got “T'd” up twice, as he felt his team was not getting the calls he thought they deserved. As a result of the two technicals, Leitao was ejected from the game with 3:04 to go. Associate Head Coach Rick Carter would coach in Leitao's stead the rest of the way.
After a mostly nip and tuck second half, the Hoyas would know how to close the game late.
With the score at a manageable 55-50 with 5:43 to go in favor of Georgetown, the Hoyas would end the game on a 19-13 run, while making a killing at the charity stripe.
After scoring just three points in the first half, Hoyas senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera would come up clutch in the second half— and mostly from the foul line. He scored 14 points (9-14 at the free throw line) in the second stanza to lead the Hoyas with 17 points. L.J. Peak also scored 17 points, while Jessie Govan added 12 points for the Hoyas.
Billy Garrett Jr. and Myke Henry led DePaul with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Freshman Eli Cain also added 11 points for the Demons.
NO NAME HT WT POS YEAR Hometown/High School
0 L.J. Peak 6-5 215 G SO Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney
1 Tre Campbell 6-2 170 G SO Washington, D.C./St. John's College HS
4 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera 6-3 215 G SR Indianapolis, Ind./North Central / Oak Hill Academy
5 Reggie Cameron 6-7 225 F JR Hackensack, N.J./Hudson Catholic
11 Isaac Copeland 6-9 220 F SO Raleigh, N.C./Brewster Academy (N.H.)
13 Paul White 6-8 230 F SO Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young
15 Jessie Govan 6-10 270 C FR Queens Village, N.Y./Wings Academy
21 Riyan Williams 6-4 185 G SR Dunkirk, Md./Archbishop Carroll (D.C.)
22 Akoy Agau 6-8 235 F SO Omaha, Neb./Omaha Central
24 Marcus Derrickson 6-7 250 F FR Bowie, Md./Brewster Academy (N.H.)
32 Kaleb Johnson 6-6 205 G/F FR South Hill, Va./The Carlisle School
33 Trey Mourning 6-9 230 F SO Miami, Fla./Ransom Everglades
42 Bradley Hayes 7-0 275 C SR Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood