Throwback game: Hoyas face WVU at venerable McDonough

Throwback game: Hoyas face WVU at venerable McDonough
March 18, 2014, 10:30 am
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Matchup: Georgetown (17-14, 8-10 Big East) vs. West Virginia (17-15, 9-9 Big 12)

What: NIT, 1st round

When: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: McDonough Arena

Broadcast: TV - ESPN, Radio - 980 AM.

Streaks: Both teams enter having lost five of their last seven games. The Hoyas have lost five of their last seven games, including the Big East Tournament opener against DePaul.

History: The former Big East rivals last met during the 2011-12 season, WVU's final campaign before leaving for the Big 12.

KenPom: Georgetown 54, West Virginia 65

RPI: Georgetown 69, West Virginia 88

Coaches: Georgetown - John Thompson III; West Virginia - Bob Huggins

Leaders: Hoyas - Scoring (Markel Starks, 17.1), Rebounding (Nate Lubick, 5.5), Assists (Markel Starks, 4.0)

Links: Hoyas, West Virginia   

Goals: Nobody denied the main goal - reaching the NCAA Tournament - came up short. With that option gone - the DePaul loss ended such hopes - the Hoyas moved on. On Monday, the players and coaches talked like a group who appreciate that there are still games and they get to keep on playing. 

 “You’re upset, mad, frustrated — that whole gamut of emotions. That’s the bus ride home," Thompson said. "Then you get re-energized when you realize, ‘Okay, we’re still going to be able to play,’ and when you take a look around the country at how many good teams weren’t invited — how many good teams aren’t playing.” 

For seniors Starks, Nate Lubick, Aaron Bowen, Moses Ayegba and John Caprio, Tuesday could be their final game, home or away. 

“The guys still want to play more basketball games,” said junior Jabril Trawick, who along with fellow guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera will be the leaders next season. "It’s a good thing for the seniors; they still get to play basketball. And for the guys coming back next year, it helps us out in the long run, as well.” 

I asked Thompson if the NIT would be an opportunity to make lineup or game plan changes with 2014-15 in mind. He said the goal is to focus on winning these games in part to honor those seniors. 

The Hoyas are the fourth seed in their NIT region with WVU No. 5. The winner would face either top seed Florida State or No. 8 Florida Gulf Coast.

McDonough: With the Verizon Center occupied - yes, the literal circus is in town -, the Hoyas return to their former on-campus home court and current practice facility. Georgetown last played a true game at McDonough on Dec 19, 2009. That night, snow paralyzed the D.C. area and the Hoyas succumbed to Old Dominion.

As for what to expect playing in the roughly 2,500 seat gym, Lubick said, "Not a clue. It will be very strange for it to be a home game at McDonough, Obviously it's a much smaller venue. It will be fun."

West Virginia: Thompson spent Sunday night and Monday familiarizing himself with the Mountaineer players like stat-stuffing guard Juwan Staten. There was no need to study up on the opposing coach even though Georgetown and West Virginia have not met since January 7, 2012.

"There is no doubt that [Huggins] is one of the best coaches ever to do this," Thompson said. "His record speaks for itself. His teams are going to defend. They’re going to be tough, and they’re going to rebound."

Lubick, Georgetown's starting power forward, Starks, Trawick and Mikael Hopkins played in the last meeting. WVU only has two players returning from the 2012 roster.

“I’ve never beaten West Virginia since I’ve been here,” Lubick said. “That would be an awesome thing to go out on.”

Like the Hoyas, WVU has some high profile wins, most recently a victory over Kansas on March 8. The Mountaineers were then routed in the Big 12 Tournament by Texas, trailing by 30 points before falling 66-49.

The 6-foot-1 Staten averages 18 points, a Big 12-leading 5.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. Guard Eron Harris contributes 17.4 points per outing 

WVU rarely commits turnovers, but struggles keeping opponents off the offensive glass and from the free throw line. 

The Mountaineers won the 2007 NIT.