Georgetown's success hinges on limiting EWU's shooting percentage
Is there a more gotcha! game on Thursday than Eastern Washington vs. Georgetown? The No. 13 seed Eagles are prime candidates to post an upset against the fourth-seeded Hoyas.
EWU's Tyler Harvey was named the Big Sky Tournament MVP with a three-game total of 69 points, including a 42-point performance in the quarterfinals against Idaho. Harvey leads the nation in points per game (22.9) and 3-point field goals per game (3.9). Last season, he finished eighth in the nation in scoring. Harvey is on pace to join Rodney Stuckey (Eastern Washington 2005-06 and 2006-07) and Harold Arceneaux (Weber State 1998-99 and 1999-2000) as the only Big Sky players since 1996-97 to finish in the top 10 in the nation in scoring in back-to-back seasons.
|(13) Eastern Wash. vs. (4) Georgetown|
|9:57 p.m. ET Thursday | truTV|
Shutting down the nation's leading scorer is Georgetown's top priority -- but Harvey isn't the only cause for concern. The Eagles' Venky Jois is one of three active DI players to average at least 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game in their careers. And if that wasn't enough, Eastern Washington's Drew Brandon is one of 12 players in the nation to lead his team in rebounds, assists and steals.
Want more? Bogdan Bliznyuk is averaging 12.0 points in 21 conference and conference tournament games off the bench, including 14 games in double figures. He is one of 18 Division I players this season to record back-to-back games of 21 or more points off the bench.
So the Hoyas have their hands full -- but there's plenty of firepower to combat the Eagles' attack.
Preseason Big East Player of the Year D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is leading the Hoyas in scoring for the second consecutive season (17.6 ppg in 2013-14). Smith-Rivera poured in a season-high tying 29 points against Indiana on Dec. 27, becoming the 45th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club with the performance. And if the game is tight down the stretch, get the ball into Smith-Rivera's hands; he is shooting 87.4 percent from the free-throw line since the beginning of last season – best of any active Big East player (minimum 100 FTM).
Long-range, the Hoyas' best 3-point shooter (by percentage) this season is Jabril Trawick (40.3 percent). That's a double-digit improvement, as he entered 2014-15 shooting just 29.3 percent from behind the arc in his first three years. Trawick has scored in double digits 16 times this season, and the Hoyas are 15-1 in those contests.
Eastern Washington (21-0) is one of 12 Division I teams that are undefeated with at least 21 wins when they have a better shooting percentage than their opponent. Clamping down on Harvey, Jois and Bliznyuk will be paramount if the Hoyas are to advance.
If Georgetown can reach 72 points, the game may be out of reach for EWU. The Hoyas are averaging 70.7 points per game -- the third-highest average by any Hoya team since John Thompson III took over head coaching duties (averaged 73.5 ppg in 2009-10, and 71.0 last season) -- and Georgetown is 14-0 when scoring 72 or more points this season.