Georgetown and West Virginia met for the Big East title last season. Both are enduring problems at the start of conference play this season.
The 13th-ranked Hoyas will try to end a three-game slide against the Mountaineers on Saturday at the Verizon Center.West Virginia won 60-58 on tournament MVP Da'Sean Butler's layup with 4.2 seconds left in last year's Big East championship game. The Mountaineers (9-4, 1-2), though, lost Butler along with two more starters from that team that reached the Final Four while Georgetown (12-3, 1-2) lost second-leading scorer Greg Monroe to the NBA.Departures seem to be hurting Georgetown less. The Hoyas are shooting 51.7 percent for the second-best mark in the nation and have three players who average double figures in points in Austin Freeman (18.3), Jason Clark (13.2) and Chris Wright (12.7).Those three players, though, didn't fare well in Georgetown's two conference defeats. They combined for 32 points on 12-of-28 shooting in a 69-55 loss at then-No. 15 Notre Dame on Dec. 29 and were worse Monday, totaling 20 points on 7-of-25 shooting on a 61-58 loss at St. John's."We need Chris, Austin and Jason to score points. That's not a secret," coach John Thompson III said. "Do we have to find other ways when they're not putting the ball in the basket? Yes. Do I feel confident that on nights like this that we can do that? Yes."Whether the Hoyas' top three scorers can bounce back Saturday is a good question. During the three-game skid against West Virginia, Wright has averaged 18.0 points. Freeman, though, is at 11.5 points per game and Clark 3.7 in that span.The Mountaineers seem confident going into the matchup with the Hoyas despite blowing a 14-point lead in a 67-65 win at DePaul on Tuesday."Hopefully we'll play better against Georgetown -- and we have played Georgetown very well in the three-plus years that I've been here," coach Bob Huggins told the Mountaineers' official website.Huggins was upset that his team matched a season high with 16 turnovers against arguably the conference's worst team. Darryl Bryant's tiebreaking three-point play with 1:18 left gave West Virginia the lead for good."We didn't care if we threw up a backwards game-winning shot and won the game," guard Casey Mitchell said. "We just needed a win, and it's tough to come from behind in the Big East three games down."Mitchell is one of the nation's most improved players, averaging a team-high 16.8 points after he scored 3.7 per game as a junior in 2009-10. He's one of three new starters."We've just got to be mentally tough," Mitchell said. "When we get leads, guys tend to do things out of their game instead of doing things that got us the lead."Wright seems to be going in the opposite direction for the Hoyas, seeing his average drop from to 12.7 from 15.2 as a junior. The 32.3 percent 3-point shooter has made one of 14 attempts in Big East play."I don't think I'm forcing shots. I don't think I'm doing anything uncharacteristic, just missed shots," he said. "I believe in myself. I believe in my shot."