Hoyas Coming to Town

Another hotly contested game, another Big East loss for the Notre Dame men's basketball team. That's been the storyline so far this season for the Irish as they fell to 1-4 in conference play with their 67-65 loss at Marquette on a last second shot by Golden Eagle superstar Steve Novak.

Could it get any worse? As a matter of fact, it can. Notre Dame welcomes in Georgetown to the Joyce Center on Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is being televised on ESPNU. The Hoyas are fresh off one of the biggest upsets of the year, beating top-ranked and undefeated Duke 87-84 even with the Blue Devils' J.J. Redick exploding for 41 points.

After the Georgetown visit, head coach Mike Brey and the Irish face a trio of teams that could send the season spiraling even farther down the tubes. Notre Dame hosts sixth-ranked Villanova on Saturday and then takes road trips the following week to red-hot West Virginia, winners of 11 in a row, and to a desperate Louisville team in search of getting their year back on track. The prospect of getting back to .500 in league play will be a steep uphill climb.

That climb got even more treacherous when the Irish were unable to pull out a road win over Marquette this past weekend. Notre Dame led 65-63 with just under three minutes to go when a Rob Kurz steal led to Chris Quinn's go-ahead layup. It would be the last time the Irish would score in the contest. Marquette had the ball with the clock winding down and the game tied and it went to their go-to-guy Novak. The senior did not disappoint head coach Tom Creen as his fade away jumper from the right corner went through the net and gave Marquette the two-point win. Novak finished with 28 points. It was another heartbreaking Big East loss for Notre Dame (10-6 overall).

There were the usual positives and negatives. A sore spot for the Irish in conference play, the defense, held up reasonably well. The Golden Eagles, despite shooting over 50 percent, were held to 67 points, the lowest point total that the Notre Dame defense has surrendered in five league games. The Irish had been allowing 84.5 points per game in conference action. The problem? Notre Dame had been averaging 84 PPG in Big East play but was hampered by 9-of-28 (32 percent) shooting from three-point range. Colin Falls connected on six three-pointers and finished the game with 21 points but missed a shot from behind the arc with the contest tied and under a minute to go right before Novak's game-winner. Quinn racked up 18 points but hit only 6-of-16 from the field. Torin Francis hauled down 10 rebounds but had eight points on just 2-of-6 shooting.

Georgetown (12-4, 3-2 in the Big East) looks to add to the Irish's misery on Tuesday night as they enter the game with a full head of steam. Head coach John Thompson III scored his biggest win of his short time with the Hoyas in the upset victory over Duke last Saturday. He got some help from Brandon Bowman's 23 points and eight rebounds and Jeff Green's 18 points. Bowman leads a balanced Georgetown attack, leading the squad by averaging 12 PPG. Francis will have his hands full with 7-2 big man Roy Hibbert. The sophomore center is scoring 11 points a contest in just 21 minutes of action a game. Green, a 6-9 athletic swingman who can do a little bit of everything, and guard Ashanti Cook average 10.3 PPG, giving the Hoyas four players in double figures. If you include Darrel Owens and Jonathan Wallace's nine points a contest each, that is six players who average nine points or more a game.

Notre Dame will prepare for the "Princeton-style" offense Georgetown employs. The array of backdoor cuts and high percentage shots is one of the main reasons why the Hoyas torched the Blue Devils for 87 points on 61 percent shooting. It is also why Georgetown leads the Big East in field goal accuracy at 49 percent.


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