Although the absence of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera didn't slow Georgetown in its regular-season finale, the Hoyas need their top scorer for a deep run in the Big East tournament.
Smith-Rivera will try to keep No. 23 Georgetown rolling with another impressive shooting performance against 10th-seeded Creighton on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Georgetown (20-9, 12-6) is back in the AP poll after finishing second in the Big East, winning five of six and concluding the regular season with a 73-67 victory over Seton Hall on Saturday. The Hoyas shot 48.9 percent after Smith-Rivera was scratched due to a knee injury suffered during a 60-54 win over then-No. 21 Butler on March 3.
"I didn't know until 15-20 (minutes) before the game, that's not something that we planned," coach John Thompson III said. "This was not a coach's decision. He couldn't play. It caught us off guard to be honest with you, but it's not serious and we don't anticipate him missing any part of the Big East tournament, but we'll see."
Having Smith-Rivera - averaging 16.0 points - on the court would surely help against Creighton (14-18). The junior guard has scored at least 18 points in three of four career meetings, including 24 while hitting 9 of 17 from the floor in a 67-40 rout Jan. 31.
Jabril Trawick had 15 points in that matchup, and he's averaged 14.0 in three meetings with the Bluejays. The senior guard scored a career-high 19 on Saturday, picking up the slack in place of Smith-Rivera after totaling 14 points over the two previous games.
Creighton snapped a three-game slide by easing to a 78-63 win over seventh-seeded DePaul in the opening round Wednesday. However, the Bluejays are averaging 57.7 points while losing six straight against Top 25 opponents, including two against the Hoyas.
"I think our guys, if there's one team we'd want to play again, it would be (Georgetown) just because we played so poorly the two times we played against them," coach Greg McDermott said. "Maybe it's them. Maybe they're that much better than us, but at least tomorrow we'll get another opportunity to find out."
James Milliken wasn't a factor in either prior meeting, totaling eight points while missing 15 of 17 from the floor, including six of seven 3-point attempts. The guard, though, is averaging 17.0 points on 58.6 percent shooting - 10 of 17 from long range - over the last three games, and he scored 22 on Wednesday.
Devin Brooks gave Creighton some offense off the bench against the Blue Demons, putting up 12 points with five assists and as many rebounds. The senior guard from Harlem is averaging 7.9 points on the season, but he's bumped that to 11.1 over nine games after being held to four in the last matchup with Georgetown.
The winner will meet Xavier or Butler in the semifinals Friday.