GAME NOTES: After losing five games in a row, the Georgetown Hoyas are riding a four-game win streak, and will seek a fifth as they travel to New York City to face the St. John's Red Storm in a Big East Conference tilt at Madison Square Garden.
Georgetown started the Big East season 3-6 in the conference, but after four consecutive wins - three of which have been in conference play - the Hoyas are now 6-6 in the conference standings. Georgetown defeated Providence, 83-71, in the team's last outing.
St. John's has also won four consecutive games, with a victory over then-No. 12 ranked Creighton thrown in. The Red Storm have been victorious in seven of their last eight games altogether, which includes a thrilling 68-67 win over Seton Hall in the team's most recent contest.
This will be the 101st meeting between these two long-time rivals. St. John's owns the all-time series lead, 53-47, but Georgetown won the earlier matchup this season, 77-60, in Washington, D.C.
Georgetown trailed Providence, 36-32, at the end of the first half in Monday's Big East Conference clash. But the Hoyas came storming back in the second frame, outscoring the Friars 51-35 to earn the victory. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera netted a team-high 22 points for Georgetown, while Jabril Trawick scored 12 off the bench and Reggie Cameron chipped in 11. Mikael Hopkins grabbed a team- high 11 rebounds in the win.
Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks have been the go-to scorers this season for the Hoyas, especially in the team's most recent run. Smith-Rivera tops the team in scoring average with 17.1 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting from the floor. Starks isn't too far off the pace at 16.8 ppg with a team-leading 97 assists. Nate Lubick and Hopkins are the team's top rebounders, with Lubick checking in at 6 rpg and Hopkins at 5.8 rpg.
Chris Obekpa sunk a free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining in Thursday's game for St. John's, which broke the seventh tie of the contest and gave the Red Storm a one-point victory over Seton Hall in conference play. D'Angelo Harrison led St. John's with 12 points in the win, while Obekpa, Rysheed Jordan and Sir'Dominic Pointer each tallied 10 points. The Red Storm shot 53.2 percent from the floor in the victory.
Like Smith-Rivera and Starks for Georgetown, Harrison and JaKarr Sampson have proven to be the top two scorers this season for St. John's. Harrison tops the squad with an 18 ppg average, and is third in total assists (40) behind Jordan (74) and Pointer (50). Sampson checks in with a 12.4 ppg average with a team- leading 6.2 rpg mark. The Red Storm are averaging 72.9 ppg as a team this season through 25 games played.
Both teams have been playing well recently, and have been getting contributions not just from their top two players each game, but from a host of other outlets as well. In New York at MSG, the Red Storm should be able to squeeze out a win with a strong presence underneath the basket.
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