Both Georgetown and Marquette don’t have to fight their way into the NCAA tournament as the regular season draws to a close. But the two ranked Big East rivals can potentially enhance their seeding in the conference tournament and the field of 65 with a victory Saturday afternoon when they meet in Milwaukee.
No. 11 Georgetown (23-4, 13-3) is tied for the Big East lead with No. 18 Louisville with two games remaining, and the teams conclude the regular season against each other in Washington on March 8. The Hoyas, seeking a second straight trip to the Final Four, are going after their fourth consecutive win and are coming off a 64-52 victory Wednesday against St. John’s.
DaJuan Summers hit five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points for Georgetown, which has suffered all four of its losses on the road.
Roy Hibbert added 17 points but only had three rebounds, less than half the 7-foot-2 senior’s 6.4 average. The pivotman, though, did have a pair of key blocked shots in the second half to help keep St. John’s at bay.
“I told Roy at halftime to be more aggressive,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “And not just for his points, but it opened up everything else.”
Defensively, Georgetown has stifled opponents, who are shooting just 36.3 percent and averaging 57.1 points, but the Hoyas have allowed teams to shoot at least 41.1 percent in their four losses.
The Hoyas will have a size advantage with Hibbert and the 6-8 Summers, but 21st-ranked Marquette (21-6, 11-5) will try to counter with the speed from its guard-oriented offense that appears to have hit its stride of late.
The Golden Eagles—fighting to claim one of the byes given to the top four Big East teams for the conference tournament—are going for their sixth straight victory following an 85-75 win at Villanova on Monday, when Dominic James matched a season high with 25 points and had a career-best six steals.
“We wanted to rush them at the 3-point line and make them get the ball inside,” said James, who also made five 3-pointers. “That showed how aggressive our defense was.”
The Golden Eagles have 51 steals and have forced 101 turnovers during their winning streak. They also have limited opponents to 22.8 percent (18-for-79) shooting from 3-point range in that span, but the Hoyas are third in the Big East in 3-point shooting at 37.0 percent.
James is averaging a team-high 13.6 points, and Jerel McNeal and Lazar Hayward are contributing 13.4 per game. McNeal, who had 14 points and five assists Monday, is averaging 15.8 points on 52.3 percent shooting during Marquette’s five-game run.
Containing the Hoyas on the boards will be pivotal for Marquette, which has a plus-1.5 differential per game for the season, but has been outrebounded by more than six per contest in its six losses.
Georgetown has won two of three games between the Jesuit schools since Marquette joined the Big East in 2005. Last season, the Hoyas closed the game on a 23-5 run and pulled away for a 76-58 victory as Hibbert had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Hayward and Ousmane Barro each had 14 points for the Golden Eagles, who shot just 33.9 percent.