Georgetown-St. John's Preview
Recent editions of the Georgetown-St. John's rivalry have favored the team playing at home.
The No. 11 Hoyas will try to reverse that trend and avoid a third straight loss Sunday when they visit Madison Square Garden to face the Red Storm.
Georgetown (13-3, 3-2 Big East) had won 11 straight before a sub-par stretch, a 74-62 loss at West Virginia last Saturday and Monday's 68-64 home loss to Cincinnati.
"We had a difficult week with the loss at West Virginia and the loss to Cincinnati," coach John Thompson III said. "So with the young group that we have, it's just getting them to understand why we were having success, what we need to do to get back on the right track and hopefully we can come out against obviously a tough St. John's team and play well on Sunday."
Georgetown and St. John's (8-8, 2-3) have split their last six meetings, with the home team winning each time. The Red Storm's three wins, including one at MSG in the conference tournament, have been by a combined 11 points.
All of the starters for St. John's are in their first season. They are eager for their first chance to take part in this storied rivalry.
"When I was growing up I saw old games of Chris Mullin playing against Georgetown and Patrick Ewing," St. John's freshman guard Phil Greene said. "The games were always competitive; it was always a fight to see who was going to win the games. You can understand it because it's tradition."
The Hoyas are averaging 16.3 turnovers over their last three games. They had 17 against the Bearcats to negate their 59.1 percent shooting.
"We need to be better passers, we need to be better receivers," Thompson said. "It's just as simple as that. Our guys have to understand that we can't turn the ball over. When we get shots, we make a high percentage of those shots."
The Hoyas excel at defending the 3-point line, limiting opponents to 29.2 percent to lead the Big East. That should be a major advantage against a Red Storm team that is shooting a conference-worst 25.8 percent on 3s for one of the worst marks in the country.
"When the 3-ball goes for us it's fantastic, but we know it's not something that's going to carry the day with this team," said acting coach Mike Dunlap, who continues to fill in for Steve Lavin.
St. John's has used seven or fewer players in 13 straight games due to various personnel issues. That lack of depth was evident in Wednesday's 83-64 loss at No. 25 Marquette as leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison fouled out with 10 points in 20 minutes, and St. John's allowed 52 second-half points.
The Red Storm are 0-6 against ranked opponents, the worst mark in Division I.
Georgetown's top scorers, Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson, combined for 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting Monday. Hollis Thompson averaged 15.5 points on 68.8 percent in two games last season against the Red Storm.
John Thompson III would like to see his stars get more opportunities to score.
"I think we know what makes us good and we know the mistakes that we've made the last two games, which have caused us to not come out on the victorious end of the ledger," the coach said.