Win Over Xavier Put Hoyas in 3rd Place in Big East (photos)

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Freshman guard James Akinjo (3) of Georgetown scored all of his game-high 23 points in the second half. Photo by Jeff Malet.

The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (14-7, 4-4 Big East) turned in a stellar second half and overcame a sluggish start to defeat the visiting Xavier Musketeers (11-11, 3-6 Big East) 80-73 on Jan. 31 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. With the win, the Hoyas took sole possession of third place in the Big East Conference.

The Hoyas did not score their first point until four minutes had elapsed and quickly fell behind 9-0. They missed their first nine three-point attempts and found themselves behind 36-28 at halftime. After the break, the Hoyas picked up the tempo and regained their shooting stroke, scoring 33 points in their next 16 possessions while finally taking their first lead in the game with only 9:38 remaining. The Hoyas would outscore the Musketeers 52-37 allowing only a single turnover in the second half.

Freshman guard James Akinjo led all scorers, scoring all of his 23 points in the second half to go with five rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals. Georgetown’s other freshman guard, Mac McClung, contributed 11 points, four rebounds and five assists, including a highlight film-worthy no-look pass, resulting in a dunk for fellow freshman starter Josh LeBlanc during the first half. LeBlanc finished with 17. Naji Marshall, with 16 points, led all scorers for Xavier, which has now lost four straight.

This Hoyas were just coming off a satisfying victory over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden earlier in the week. Coach Patrick Ewing had been agonizing over his team’s inability to finish games where they held a lead. On Jan. 9, his team had blown a 17-point advantage to the same Xavier squad, resulting in a six-point loss.

“We have to continue to build and continue to believe in ourselves and believe that at the end, we’re going to be right there in the mix with everyone,” said Ewing following the game.

With the win, the Hoyas took sole possession of third place in the Big East Conference. Their next scheduled game will be a Super Bowl Sunday afternoon away game against defending National Champion Villanova (17-4, 8-0 Big East). [Update: Villanova defeated Georgetown 77-65.] “We have to bring our A-plus game for a win,” commented Ewing, who as a player for the Hoyas battled Villanova for the National Championship in 1985. The Hoyas next home game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, at noon against the Butler Bulldogs.

VIew Jeff Malet’s courtside photos from the Hoyas game against Xavier by clicking on the photo icons below.

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