Since dropping a pair of back-to-back conference games against West Virginia and Connecticut, the Hoyas have been on fire. Georgetown has won seven consecutive games since those losses, including a lovely 87-84 win over Duke and a 61-58 victory over Pitt. Head Coach John Thompson's modified Princeton offense, combined with his athletic, long front line, has caused problems for every Big East foe, and figures to provide the suddenly out-of-sync West Virginia squad with problems as well.
Resurgent sophomore forward Jeff Green has shaken off his early season woes and is now producing as most observers believed he would. He is averaging 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.4 assist over GU's last five games, and it's no coincidence that his team has been on a roll over that period. Outside Mike Gansey, Green is likely the best passer in the Big East, and has again been posing problems defensively for other teams.
Despite what was perceived as a slow start, Georgetown is 8-2 in the conference and could position itself for a top four finish with a win over WVU. The Hoyas' record over the first ten conference games is their best since a 9-1 start in 1983-84.
Although the teams met just four and one-half weeks ago, the teams are in very different circumstances for this rate Sunday night matchup.
|Sun Feb 12|
WVU 17-5, 8-1
GU 17-4, 8-2
WVU - 31
GU - 18
The classic response to the problem of getting (or making) shots is to drive the ball to the basket, but WVU has been spotty at this play phase all years. In some games, the Mountaineers have been able to create offensive chances, both inside and out, by doing so, but in others they have been reluctant to do so, instead settling for long range shots. The three-pointer, of course, is this team's main weapon, but it can create better looks beyond the arc by getting Georgetown's long defense moving, rather than allowing it to stay on the ball and in passing lanes, as Pitt so successfully did. Look for head coach John Beilein to emphasize ball control and lengthy possessions – items that haven't been in evidence during his team's last two games.
Although his offense was sorely missed against Pitt, Kevin Pittsnogle's much-improved interior defense might have been even more noticeable due to its absence against the Panthers. Against big Roy Hibbert, Pittsnogle must, as he did successfully in the previous Georgetown matchup, keep him off the boards. West Virginia outrebounded Georgetown 33-29 in WVU's win last month, and while it doesn't have to duplicate that performance, it probably can't afford a minus ten in this stat category either. Hibbert, Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green are all adept operators in the lane, and too many second chances on offense will likely lead to a WVU defeat.
Georgetown holds the rare distinction of leading the league in both scoring defense and shooting percentage. That's a deadly one-two punch that goes a long way toward explaining its current winning streak. The Hoyas cover a great deal of ground on defense, and don't allow many uncontested shots. For the year, they are now allowing just 59.0 points per game, and are complementing that on the offensive end by making 48.5% of their shots from the field. Some of that high percentage is due to their front line, which can all score inside, but it also shows that the Hoyas have taken the next step in running their sophisticated offense, as they have been getting better shots over the past month as well.
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While head coach John Beilein catches some heat for playing a mostly seven-man rotation, Thompson is doing much the same at Georgetown. Only seven Hoyas average more than ten minutes per game, and every player from number eight on down has seen his minutes drop during the start of Big East play.
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When the game clock ticks over to 19:00 in the first half, Joe Herber will own WVU's all-time record for minutes played. Herber is currently tied with Darryl Prue at 3,788.
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Georgetown is one of only four teams in the country to have six players averaging at least 8.9 points per game. The other three are Connecticut, Indiana State and North Carolina State.
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Kevin Pittsnogle is 19 points away from the 1,500 mark for his career.