The Matchups: Xavier vs Georgetown

Before every game, MusketeerReport breaks down the position-by-position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on the Musketeers’ first Big East game of the season Wednesday night as part of the New Years Eve Big East tip-off marathon of games.

Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera JR (6-3, 214)

Smith-Rivera has developed into the conference player of the year type of athlete that scouts always said he would be when Xavier was involved with his recruitment – he’s an elite scorer that knows how to get buckets in a variety of ways and can make his teammates better with his feel for the game. He’s the Hoyas’ leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, but their offense might be at its best when he’s attracting extra attention from the defense and dishing out his team-leading 3.8 assists per game. He had been in a shooting slump, hitting just 22.9 percent from the field over a three-game stretch heading into Saturday’s tilt with Indiana, but broke out for 24 points in the second half against the Hoosiers to finish with 29 points on 9-of-18 shooting (5-of-7 from 3-point range). Keeping the Hoyas from getting hot from the outside will be a big key for Xavier, and Smith-Rivera is a huge part of that. These two players are very familiar with each other from school and AAU basketball when they were growing up in Indiana. Davis’ performance is going to be a big factor in Xavier’s success. He doesn’t have to match Smith-Rivera’s output, but he has to at least make this a competitive pairing. He’s been able to play "under” bigger scorers on the defensive end and frustrate them in the past, so look for him to try and take DSR out of his game with his defensive effort. Davis is coming off a 12-point, 4 assist performance against FGCU where he was 4-of-12 from the field and had two steals and two turnovers.

Moderate Edge Georgetown

Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Jabril Trawick SR (6-5, 220)

Trawick is the emotional leader for Georgetown. He’s not the most skilled or the most productive player in the Hoyas’ lineup, but his energy often adds more value than what his stat line reads, especially when they’re making a run. He’s been great the last two games (Charlotte and Indiana) averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. For the season, he’s scoring 7.7 points per game and grabbing 4.6 boards. He’s not a volume shooter from the outside, but he’ll knockdown a good look if he gets it. For the year, he’s 8-of-14 from long distance. Outside of a solid performance in the win over Indiana, he has not played well in the Hoyas’ biggest games this year. Abell has been looking more and more comfortable with each game for Xavier, and recently he’s picked up his play on both ends of the court. Offensively, he’s been great in transition all season, and has started to add more strong drives to the rim in the half court lately. He’s also made seven of his last 12 3-point attempts. He’s now averaging double figures at 10.1 points per game after putting up 18 at Auburn and 13 against FGCU. He may end up guarding Peak on the defensive end, and could spend some time on Smith-Rivera if necessary.

Slight Edge Xavier

Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs L.J. Peak FR (6-5, 215)

Peak has been the most productive piece of a five-player freshmen class that has the Georgetown fan base rightfully excited. He’s started all 11 games for the Hoyas, and has led them in scoring twice - his debut when he scored 23 points against St. Francis and a game ago when he put up 18 against Charlotte. He also scored 18 in a loss to Kansas. He’s averaging 9.9 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting. He’s a very talented slasher and driver that is also a streaky shooter. He’s not afraid to take the jumper, even though he’s only hitting at a 29.6 percent clip from 3-point range. After Bluiett scored 16 at Auburn and looked like he was starting to come around in the second half of that game, he put up his lowest point total as a college player Sunday afternoon against FGCU, scoring only four points and grabbing five boards in the win. He was 2-of-7 from the field and 0-of-2 from 3-point range. There’s no way around the fact that the Musketeers will need him to return to form and start playing better in Big East play.

Slight Edge Xavier

James Farr JR (6-10, 244) vs Mikael Hopkins SR (6-9, 239)

Hopkins is a role player whose job is to rebound and defend. He’s averaging 4.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. He’s part of the reason that Georgetown ranks 11th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, so Xavier will have to make sure they keep a body on him and don’t let him get easy points off of stick backs. Farr finished with seven points and nine rebounds in the win over FGCU, but he was just 3-of-10 from the field. The Musketeers need him to bring the same type of effort on the boards against a strong rebounding Georgetown team, but they also need him to finish better around the basket.

Slight Edge Xavier

Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Josh Smith SR (6-10, 350)

Smith is a behemoth of a post presence, but sometimes that causes people to overlook his skill and athleticism. Despite being bigger, he’s more athletic than Stainbrook and while he may not be quite as good of a passer he still has great feel for a center and is a player that the Hoyas will run their offense through on the block. He’s second on the team with 12.8 points per game to go with 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He gets a lot of second-chance points, so keeping him off of the glass will be important. He only played in 13 games last year, and Xavier never had to face him. Stainbrook is averaging 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The Musketeers’ big man has encountered very few post players that are close to his size, and almost no one bigger than him. In most cases, opponents having a more traditional back to the basket, plodding big man has been a benefit for Stainbrook and has given him a better match-up on the defensive end. However, he will have his hands full with Smith, who is much more talented than most of the bigs Xavier has seen so far. This match-up may very well determine the outcome of the game.

Slight Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Georgetown Bench

The Hoyas have a lot of pop off their bench. Senior Aaron Bowen (6-6, 212) provides experience, rebounding and defense at both forward positions. Freshman Paul White (6-8, 228) has been nearly splitting minutes with Peak at the three over the last several games. He’s averaging 7.3 point and 3.1 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. Another freshman forward, Isaac Copeland (6-9, 220) has shown a lot of progress in the last six games, averaging 7.0 points on 50 percent shooting to go with 2.0 rebounds. All three of those guys provide size and scoring ability for the Hoyas. Xavier received 24 points off its bench against FGCU, led by eight from Myles Davis and seven from Jalen Reynolds. The Musketeers could definitely use another big performance from Reynolds to help combat the Hoyas’ size and rebounding ability inside. Sean O’Mara also provided nice first half minutes off the bench against FGCU (4 pts, 2 reb, 6 min), and J.P. Macura (5 pts, 1 reb, 1 assist, 14 min) appeared to be fully recovered from his illness that kept him out at Auburn.

Slight Edge Xavier

Overall

This is the first true road game of the season for the Hoyas. They’ve played Wisconsin, Florida, Butler and Indiana in neutral site games, but have yet to travel to an opponents’ arena. The final 20 minutes of this game should be interesting as Georgetown has been a second half team so far this year while Xavier has had some major second half letdowns already. The Hoyas are averaging nearly six points more in the second half than the first, while shooting nearly five percentage points higher from the field. That being said, the Hoyas are also 8-0 when tied or leading at the half, and 1-3 this season when trailing at intermission. The one win came Saturday against Indiana after trailing 40-30 at half. It will also be interesting to watch Xavier’s potent offense against the Hoyas’ stingy defense. Xavier comes into the game shooting a conference-best 50.9 percent from the field, while Georgetown has held opponents to just 39.7 percent shooting and has yet to allow an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better in a game this season.

Score Prediction: Xavier 70 Georgetown 67


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