Georgetown-Xavier Preview (Jan 22, 2017)
CINCINNATI -- The Xavier Musketeers are hoping to put a tumultuous two weeks behind them and get back on the winning track.
Following three straight losses and the departure of senior guard Myles Davis from the program, the 20th-ranked Musketeers will host the Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday afternoon at Cintas Center.
Xavier (13-5, 3-3 in the Big East) has lost three straight games for the first time since the 2013-14 season, losing to No. 1 Villanova, No. 13 Butler, and No. 7 Creighton.
It was considered the toughest three-game stretch in program history, but that didn't make the losses any easier to take.
"People are going to throw dirt on our grave, but I can't worry about that," Xavier head coach Chris Mack said.
Davis returned from a 15-game suspension following an offseason incident with his ex-girlfriend and scored two points in three games while going 0-for-8 from the field.
On Friday, Davis announced via social media that he was leaving the team.
"Myles and I met this morning," said Mack in a statement Friday. "As Myles stated, he has left our basketball program. He and his family have asked for privacy and can share more information if they see fit."
Davis was a key contributor to last year's team, which won 28 games and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Davis was the Musketeers' third-leading scorer and led the team in assists.
With more than two-thirds of the Big East Conference slate left to play, there's plenty of time for Xavier to right the ship. But, it needs to start against the struggling Hoyas, who have lost five of seven games.
To win Sunday, Georgetown (10-9, 1-5) needs another big performance from junior guard A.J. Peak, who scored 21 points in an 81-76 loss to Xavier on New Year's Eve at the Verizon Center.
Peak was named the Big East player of the week this past week after averaging 18.5 points in wins over UConn and St. John's.
The Hoyas can ill afford to have another dismal shooting night on Sunday at Cintas Center. They shot only 32.7 percent and went 5-of-23 from 3-point range in a 74-56 loss to Providence on Monday.
"I think we got a little discouraged when a few offensive possessions didn't go our way," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "We let one end of the court affect the other."
One of Xavier's big concerns coming into this season was rebounding, especially after losing big men James Farr and Jalen Reynolds.
However, that hasn't been among the issues for the Musketeers who lead the Big East and rank 20th nationally in rebounding margin. In Monday's loss at Creighton, Rashid Gaston had a career-high 17 boards.
On the flip-side, Xavier has committed 47 turnovers over the last three games, including 17 on Monday which led to 17 Bluejays' points in a five-point loss.
Then there's the Musketeers' physical condition. Point guard Edmond Sumner has been playing despite a shoulder issue but is expected to be fine for Sunday.
Several other players missed practice at various points this week because of illness.
Xavier leads the series 10-4, including wins in five of the last six meetings. The Musketeers are 6-2 against the Hoyas since the teams became Big East rivals.