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Butler vs. Georgetown: The Bulldogs' Crossover Examination

The Bulldogs lost a tight one to Georgetown on Saturday afternoon in the final seconds. Here's how it went down.

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This past Saturday, Butler and Georgetown played one of the most exciting Big East games of the season so far. The Hoyas, of course, won in the final seconds thanks to a three pointer by Isaac Copeland, but it was a great back and forth game that either side could have came out on top of.

Offense

What Went Well

  • Scoring options: More often than not, my complaint with Butler in losing efforts is that Kellen Dunham needs some help, because he's usually scoring at least 25% of Butler's points singlehandedly. That wasn't the case on Saturday. Roosevelt Jones had 28 points on 12-19 shooting to propel himself into Big East Player of the Year discussion. It was Jones' second straight game of scoring 20 or more points (23 against Seton Hall), and it's definitely a good thing for Butler going forward if the big man can keep that production up. If Dunham and Jones could be a two headed monster that go for 15+ points per game each, it'll help Butler cover up some of their other blemishes on the offensive end.
  • Turnovers: The Bulldogs only committed eight turnovers, three less than their season average of 11 per game. Of course, had they only committed, say, seven, they might have won the game, but all in all this is still a thing that went well for them.

What Went Poorly

  • Frontcourt Scoring: Listen, I know Georgetown has a very formidable frontcourt with Joshua Smith, Mikael Hopkins, LJ Peak, and Isaac Copeland. However, Andrew Chrabascz and Kameron Woods, Butler's big men, combined for FIVE points (all from the free throw line, no less) in 65 minutes. Butler needs to get some more out of their big men if they want to compete in the conference, and in the tournament down the line.
  • Offensive Rebounding: Butler, a team that usually averages 12 offensive rebounds per game, was held to just six against the Hoyas. More offensive rebounds would lead to more second chance points. In a game you lose by two points, that lack of offensive rebounding really hurts you. It, again, goes back to Georgetown's frontcourt having immense talent, but if it becomes a problem over the next few games, it is certainly something that will need to be adjusted and adapted.

Defense

What Went Well

- Containing D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Due to Georgetown's depth, the Bulldogs may have struggled a bit to shut down the Hoyas as a whole, but they did a nice job with containing their star in Smith-Rivera. The 6'3" junior has averaged 15.1 points per game this season on 40 percent shooting, and while he came close on Saturday with 14 points, he did shoot just 2-6 on two-pointers and 2-5 on treys. Credit Butler's Alex Barlow for the pressure on Smith-Rivera, using his physical style of defense to keep him in check. Smith-Rivera had the game-clinching block on Roosevelt Jones as the clock expired on the defensive end, but the Bulldogs did a nice job containing him offensively.

- Shutting down L.J. Peak: The Hoyas have gotten a lot of quality games of their trio of freshman in Peak, Isaac Copeland and Paul White, but it was Peak that got the start against the Bulldogs. The freshman wing is averaging the third-most points on the team this season with 9.4 points per game, but was kept relatively quiet with six points on just 2-8 shooting on the day. By that same token, White, who dropped 13 points against Butler when the two squads faced off in the Battle 4 Atlantis, played just five minutes and went scoreless on the night. However, Copeland did come up big for the Hoyas down the stretch, which brings us to...

What Went Poorly

- Let's talk about that game-winner: If you didn't catch the end of the game, I'll sum it up here. With 36 seconds remaining, Smith-Rivera put the Hoyas ahead 58-57 off of an assist from Jabril Trawick. Butler's Roosevelt Jones came back down the floor and shook off the Georgetown defenders to sink a contested layup at the rim, giving the Bulldogs a 59-58 lead with twelve seconds remaining. Even though the Hoyas were out of timeouts, Butler head coach Chris Holtmann called one of his own in order to help the team regroup going into what should have been the last possession of the game, which inadvertently gave Georgetown time to draw up a play.

Holtmann had the Bulldogs focus on Smith-Rivera and the paint, where Trawick and big man Joshua Smith had enjoyed nice games up to that point, leaving Copeland alone in the corner. The defense had been drawn up so that if Copeland got the ball, they were going to force him to sink a three, and that's exactly what he did when his teammates realized how open he was coming out of the timeout. The Hoyas took a 61-59 lead with enough time for one final Butler possession, and Smith-Rivera blocked Jones' attempt to seal the game.

Butler's defensive setup on Copeland's game-winner was controversial after the game, but in reality, the Bulldogs really did leave the guy open that they should have on that play. Smith-Rivera, Smith and Trawick were the three that needed to be contained, and Copeland stepped up to make one hell of a play. The timeout was a little bit more risky, but Holtmann did what he felt was best for the team. In back-and-forth game, it's just the little things that can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

- Forcing turnovers: The Bulldogs had just four steals and one block, doing a poor job of creating takeaways on defense. Credit the sheer number of players that can score in the Georgetown offense and nice ball movement, but it's hard to generate stops when you're not forcing turnovers.