#5 Villanova Wildcats (17-1) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (12-5)
When: Monday, January 19, 2015, at 9 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Georgetown’s Previous Season Record: 18-15, Lost to Florida State in Second Round of NIT Tournament
Key Players for Georgetown: #4 D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (6-3, 215) Jr., G; #55 Jabril Trawick (6-5, 220) Sr., G; #24 Joshua Smith (6-10, 350) Sr., C
Scouting Report: The Hoyas are currently on pace to surpass last year’s 18-15 performance. They secured a nice win over then-ranked #18 Florida and went down to the wire with Wisconsin and Florida. They’ve seen some time in the top 25 and will hope to get back there one day. One of the reasons for their success is the play of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and the return of Joshua Smith. Smith-Rivera bursted onto the scene last season and became the Hoyas’ top scorer. Smith-Rivera is an athletic scoring guard who can score from anywhere. This season he is taking a more balanced approach, as opposed to leaning towards a slashing approach. Aside from scoring, he does a little bit of everything. His numbers may have dropped across the board, but he still remains an important piece for Georgetown. Smith-Rivera averages 14.9 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 3.5 assists per game. So far, he is shooting 35.4% from long range and 40.9% from three point range. As for Joshua Smith, the Hoyas are happy to have him back. At 6’10” and 350 pounds, he is the biggest center that Villanova has faced thus far. Smith was dismissed from the team midway through last season, he straightened his act out and coach John Thompson III allowed him back onto the squad. He’s right behind Smith-Rivera in scoring, with 12.5 points per game and also has a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. Smith does not have great athleticism, but can use his size and strength to bully his way into the post. He can finish through contact around the basket and has a sweet hook shot. Another notable player is Jabril Trawick, a senior guard who adds a lot of experience. Trawick has played a good amount of minutes over the last for years. He is a solid contributor, who can provide points, rebounds, and good defense. He is a slasher, but has improved his outside shot this year. He has scored at least ten points in four out of the last five games. Also keep an eye out for the young guns, Paul White and L.J. Peak. White is a good contributor off the bench for the Hoyas, but can be rather inconsistent. He has scored two or less points in three out of the last five games. In the other two games, he has scored at least ten points. White is a decent perimeter shooter, making 38.7% of his attempts from downtown. Peak is looking like a promising forward who has worked his way to the starting lineup as a freshman. He is an adept finisher around the basket. He does not have a respectable three point shot, but is a decent defender. Recently, Peak has been rather quiet, scoring only eight or fewer points in each of the last three games.
Outlook: It’s always great to renew a historic rivalry with a classic Big East foe. This is a tough team that has hung around some great competition. The Hoyas play pretty well at home, only losing once at the Verizon Center this season. Villanova won a tough game at the Palestra, thanks to strong interior play by Daniel Ochefu. It will be interesting to see if Ochefu can match his 22 point, 10 rebound performance against a big man like Joshua Smith. Smith may be the best center he will face, if it’s not Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook. However, he didn’t need to do much in the Xavier game, as the threes were falling for the Wildcats. Villanova went cold from the perimeter in the Penn game and will look to get back on track. Ryan Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis were great in the Xavier game, but couldn’t find the same success against the Quakers. I’d like to see Villanova take a more balanced approach. If the threes aren’t falling early, they shouldn’t depend too much on it and take it inside instead. However, Villanova has done a great job of bouncing back from struggles in their previous games, so I am not too worried that they will have a hard time. The Wildcats need to test Joshua Smith and hopefully get him into foul trouble. Also, Darrun Hilliard is a fine defender, he needs to be the one on Smith-Rivera. Hilliard has done a great job this season of limiting opposing team’s “go-to guys.” Most recently, he shut down DePaul’s Billy Garrett Jr. and kept Butler’s Kellen Dunham in check.