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Butler climbs up to 3rd place in Big East with win over Georgetown

Kamar Baldwin scores six points in the final 2:07 to stifle Georgetown’s comeback effort.

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgetown Hoyas had a chance to play its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble entering Saturday afternoon’s contest against the Butler Bulldogs. But the Bulldogs (14-10, 5-6 Big East) played spoiler, utilizing an effective three-pronged offensive attack and stifling defense to down the Hoyas (15-9, 5-6 Big East), 73-69, in the nation’s capital. Kamar Baldwin scored 18 points, while Jordan Tucker and Paul Jorgensen added 15 and 12 points, respectively. Mac McClung led Georgetown with 21 points and Jamorko Pickett scored 18 of his own.

Tucker and Pickett dominated play in the early goings. Tucker drilled two three-pointers in the first four minutes while Pickett converted from deep, ran in transition for an uncontested dunk, and drove to the rim through traffic in the halfcourt. These individual streaks infected both teams, as Georgetown and Butler scored 13 points apiece in the opening five minutes of play. After that stretch, however, Butler began to take a lead, albeit a small one. Paul Jorgensen provided points immediately after entering the game, including a three-pointer in front of the Georgetown bench midway through the half. The Bulldogs extended their lead to seven points, 31-24, shortly after, but consecutive three-pointers from McClung and Jessie Govan kept the Hoyas within striking distance. Tucker scored six points in the final minutes of the half to extend the Butler lead to six, 41-35, at the half.

The Bulldogs opened the second half as they did the first, converting open looks on the offensive end. Baldwin and Sean McDermott hit back-to-back threes in the span of 30 seconds to open up a double-digit lead at 47-37 just one minute into the half. Pickett responded with a three of his own before McClung hit two free throws to halve the deficit, but Aaron Thompson and Joey Brunk converted open looks to maintain the lead. McClung made a three-pointer with 14:22 to play to make it a four-point game, the closest the Hoyas had been all half. But, again, Butler responded. Jorgensen, Nate Fowler, and Baldwin all scored to give Butler its biggest lead of the day, 62-51 with 11:00 remaining.

From there, the Hoyas slowly chipped away, making inroads at every media timeout. Kaleb Johnson scored four points down low and Pickett hit a three-pointer before making a short jumper, cutting the lead to just two points with 4:25 left to play. Butler, strangely, took each of its following possessions down well inside ten seconds on the shot clock, looking to kill time, but couldn’t get a field goal to fall for the ensuing two minutes.

Georgetown had its chances to strike even, but costly turnovers and missed layups doomed their comeback effort. Josh LeBlanc had the best opportunity of all to trim the deficit, but his seemingly-open dunk attempt was swatted by Tucker’s excellent help defense. McClung had a chance to make it a one-possession game with 40 seconds remaining when the Hoyas ran a play to get him going towards the basket, but the freshman was unable to finish the contested layup. Baldwin iced the game by making his final four free throw attempts, pulling Butler even with Georgetown and St. John’s at third place in conference.

Butler will travel to New York City for a tilt with St. John’s on Tuesday, while Georgetown will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to play Seton Hall for the first time this season.