- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - What was once a double-digit lead for No. 8 Xavier shrunk all the way down to only two points at halftime against Georgetown, which won the teams’ previous meeting this season.

“I just reassured our guys: ‘We’re fine. … So let’s go out and play in the second half with our hair on fire to start the half, like we’re excited to be here,’” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “So we did.”

As Musketeers guard Edmond Sumner explained: “Going into the locker room, we weren’t panicking.”

Xavier broke open a tight game by making 12 of its first 13 shots after halftime, and Sumner finished with a career-best 22 points, leading the Musketeers past slumping Georgetown 88-70 on Saturday.

“Second half, we came out a little flat across the board,” said Georgetown’s Isaac Copeland, who scored 13 points. “And they came out ready to go.”

Getting set to take on top-ranked Villanova in its next game, Xavier (24-3, 12-3 Big East) played far better than during a home loss to Georgetown (14-14, 7-8) a month ago.

After shooting only 35 percent in that setback, the Musketeers wound up at 54 percent Saturday, including the near-perfect stretch to open the second half. Ahead 35-33 at halftime, Xavier scored 13 consecutive points coming out of the break and eventually went ahead by as many as 21.

The Musketeers shot 77 percent in the second half.

“When someone shoots that well against you - and it’s not like they were just bombing away - then you have to just go back and evaluate, re-evaluate, every aspect of your defense,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way with 18 points for Georgetown, which has lost three consecutive games and six of its last seven.

Unlike in the Hoyas’ 81-72 victory at Cincinnati on Jan. 19, when Georgetown was one of only two teams to outrebound Xavier all season, the Musketeers led 33-30 in that category. That helped set up a 16-5 edge in fast-break scoring for the visitors.

And Sumner was often the player at the end of those chances, laying the ball in before crashing to the court.

“He was Road Runner out there. From end line to end line, he’s as fast as any player in our league,” Mack said. “When he finishes, sometimes he’s like a pile of crumpled bones when he gets knocked to the floor. … He’s fearless and he’s very fast.”

Thompson concurred.

“He just got to the rim whenever he wanted,” Georgetown’s coach said. “Very, very, very fast. And it takes not just a single person to slow him down.”


Xavier: Now 22-0 when leading at halftime. … After turning in Xavier’s first triple-double since 2011 in its previous game, Myles Davis had zero points at halftime and finished with seven points, four rebounds and three assists.

Georgetown: More than half of the Hoyas’ 61 field-goal attempts, 37, came from 3-point range, and they made only 10 of those, a 27 percent rate. … Since scoring a career-high 21 against Xavier in January, Tre Campbell has scored a total of 18 points and made only six shots in nine games.


Xavier’s unusual zone defense gave Georgetown trouble. “With them, our offense goes out the window, meaning they play that 1-3-1 and it’s not a traditional 1-3-1,” Thompson said. “Xavier did a good job of making you think one thing was open and taking it away.”


Mack on Georgetown’s offense: “I can’t imagine how difficult it is to learn, and for things to not be thinking but reacting. And they’ll get there. And when they are, hopefully we’ll have joined the ACC at that point.”


With senior Bradley Hayes out with a broken left hand, freshman Jessie Govan has moved into Georgetown’s starting lineup, and while the center scored 27 points in his previous game, he scored only five Saturday. “It was their defense, more so than anything on Jessie’s part,” Thompson said. “They made a conscious effort a lot of times to sit one person behind him and one person in his lap.”


Xavier hosts No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday.

Georgetown hosts Butler next Saturday.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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