Looking for a spark with his team’s NCAA Tournament hopes fading, Georgetown coach John Thompson inserted Jabril Trawick into the starting lineup for the first time in more than six weeks on Saturday.
The move worked as Trawick scored 13 points and delivered four assists helping Georgetown to a fast start in a 74-52, wire-to-wire victory over Xavier.
Georgetown (16-11, 7-8 Big East) snapped a two-game losing streak as Markel Starks had 22 points and four assists, guiding an efficient offense. The Hoyas shot 52 percent from the floor, had 14 assists and committed just three turnovers.
After lopsided defeats to St. John’s and Seton Hall in which Georgetown never led, Thompson believed a quick start was essential so he turned to Trawick. He hadn’t started since suffering a broken jaw in a loss Jan. 8 at Providence.
“It was a huge impact. When he’s on the court, we’re a better team,” Thompson said. “I like bringing him off the bench because we get an infusion off the bench. But we had too many slow starts.”
Semaj Christon made all five of his field goal tries on his way to 18 points for Xavier (18-9, 8-6). Justin Martin added 13 points for a sputtering Musketeers’ offense which went scoreless from the floor in a span of more than 12 minutes in the second half.
“We were overwhelmed from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “They outplayed us. They out hustled us. They outcoached us. They were by far the superior team on the court today. It wasn’t even close.”
Trawick’s impact was immediate as he fed Nate Lubick for a layup on the opening possession, then helped the Hoyas force a 10-second violation, the first of two for Xavier in the half.
“We had a tough time even bringing the ball into the half-court,” Mack said. “Georgetown’s contain press turned into more of a turnover-type press.”
Georgetown scored 16 points on its first eight possessions, surging to a nine-point lead. Trawick fueled the start on consecutive trips with a putback, a 3-pointer, and a pass to Mikael Hopkins for a layup.
“I come out and play the same way every time,” Trawick said. “I knew that coach put me back into the starting lineup to start the aggressiveness and start the game off strong.”
Late in the first half, the Hoyas went on a 10-0 spree which reserve Aaron Bowen started with a jumper and finished with a dunk for a 29-15 lead.
Xavier’s Jalen Reynolds helped fuel the run when he blocked a shot by Trawick, but taunted him and drew a technical foul. Starks made two free throws and Trawick followed with back-to-back field goals sandwiched around a Musketeers turnover.
“He brings a lot of toughness to the game,” Mack said. “I think he is their emotional leader.”
In the second half, Xavier whittled an 18-point deficit to 11. But during a nearly 13 minute span the Hoyas held the Musketeers scoreless from the field, stretching their lead to 25 points.