|Xavier aims to bolster NCAA tourney hopes vs. Georgetown|
Xavier's NCAA Tournament chances might have been saved when it beat Creighton on Saturday but the belief will be more valid if the Musketeers produce more wins.
Xavier gets a chance to follow up its most impressive win of the season Tuesday night when it visits Georgetown in Big East play at Washington, D.C.
Xavier (13-5, 6-5 Big East) has played the fewest games in the league due to three COVID-19 pauses. The Musketeers returned from the third stoppage by losing three of four games but posted a 77-69 victory over then-No. 13 Creighton on Saturday.
"Our guys were ready," Xavier coach Travis Steele said. "Our team had a different vibe to it today, it just did. Every player positively impacted us on the floor. Creighton was playing as well as any team in the country."
Paul Scruggs and Zach Freemantle were more than ready in a game by combining for 40 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists.
Scruggs totaled 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and had seven rebounds and five assists. He has scored 45 points in two games after being shooting 9-of-29 in the first three games back from the two-week pause. Freemantle totaled 17 and 10 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double.
The duo helped Xavier turn its best performance since the latest layoff and it came after losing Nate Johnson to a season-ending leg injury. Johnson is Xavier's third-leading scorer (11.4) and the Big East's third-best 3-point shooter at 45.2 percent.
"We need everybody," Steele said. "When you lose a guy like Nate who's a tremendous player, who's been really good for us all year, we need guys to step up."
Georgetown (8-11, 6-8) is playing better of late heading into Tuesday. The Hoyas lost five in a row from Dec. 20-Jan. 9 but are 5-3 since a three-week COVID-19 pause.
Georgetown also is 3-1 since a 63-48 loss to Creighton on Feb. 9 with its wins coming against Butler, Seton Hall and DePaul.
On Saturday, the Hoyas rebounded from a 70-57 loss to UConn by getting a 68-60 win at DePaul. Georgetown won the game without leading scorer Jahvon Blair, who sat out due to a "coach's decision".
Blair averages 15.8 points, sixth in the Big East, and is expected to play Tuesday.
Chudier Bile posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Hoyas to a 39-28 rebounding edge. Bile scored 15 points in the first half and is averaging 13.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in his last eight games.
"Chudier played a great game," Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing said. "He was huge for us. The thing I liked about him in the second half, he didn't hunt shots.
Jamorko Pickett and Dante Harris added 14 apiece Saturday as Georgetown shot 41.2 percent and overcame 19 turnovers by making 19 of 21 free throw tries.
--Field Level Media