Villanova-Georgetown Preview (Mar 04, 2017)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Extra motivation is not needed when Villanova and Georgetown meet in college basketball. The schools are long-time Big East Conference rivals who each have at least one Final Four appearance on their resume in the past 10 years.

But there are several interesting subplots involved when the No. 2 Wildcats visit the Hoyas on Saturday at the Verizon Center.

The regular-season finale will also be the final home game in the nation’s capital for Villanova senior standouts Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, a pair of local products.

Hart, one of the top players in the country, is from nearby Silver Spring, Md., and played at Sidwell Friends, the private school located a few miles of the Verizon Center.

Jenkins, whose shot beat North Carolina in the NCAA title game last March, is from Upper Marlboro, Md., and also played high school ball in the District of Columbia. He is a product of Gonzaga, a private school power with several graduates at the Division I level.

Hart averages a team-best 18.6 points while Jenkins adds 13.2 per game.

The Wildcats will have had plenty of rest since they last played at home Saturday in a 79-63 victory over Creighton as Hart had 16 points and Jenkins had 15. Villanova (27-3, 14-3 Big East) won four regular-season conference titles in a row.

The Wildcats are averaging 77.4 points and allowing 63.3.

“Nobody wins anything without really talented players,” coach Jay Wright told reporters after beating Creighton. “Our guys are really good and so talented. When you win championships, the players are talented. They’re really good.

“Over the years, these guys have played with some great players that have taught them, and these guys became great players and they (Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins) are teaching him (Eric Paschall). He’s going to be a great one. That’s really what Villanova basketball is all about. It’s hard to get those guys here. It’s hard to keep getting better like they do. That’s really what has happened over the last four years. It’s hard to keep that going.”

The motivation for Georgetown? Perhaps save face for coach John Thompson III, who is coming under pressure from many alumni as the Hoyas appear headed to a second straight losing season.

Georgetown (14-16, 5-12) is coming off a 62-59 loss Tuesday at Seton Hall as the Hoyas fumbled the ball in several of their last possessions. The Hoyas could only manage a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer following a timeout with 14.6 seconds left, and have lost four games in a row.

Thompson said in a statement to ESPN.com: “First and foremost, our fans are terrific and have been terrific. They’ve experienced some good times with us, and now, with the stretch we are having, I understand their frustration. There is no one more frustrated than I am. We are accustomed to winning. I know that our players and staff are working hard and playing hard. No one cares more about this program and tradition than I do.”

Junior forward L.J. Peak led Georgetown with 15 points at Seton Hall while graduate transfer Rodney Pryor had 11.

The Georgetown seniors will be honored Saturday. But there will certainly be many Villanova fans at the Verizon Center, which has been lifeless at times this season when Georgetown plays.

Hart and Jenkins were honored Saturday in their last home game. Now this Saturday they get to play near their childhood homes.

“The beginning is more for the parents and celebrating them,” Hart said after Saturday’s game. “We give them all the credit for raising us. After that, the game is all business and we have to play 40 minutes of Villanova basketball.

This game isn’t about the seniors, it’s about the next step in our journey. We fought and we battled. I’m proud of us for that. It was great to do all of that.”