Georgetown led at halftime once again, and once again, the game slipped away. Just four days after blowing an 18-point lead against Marquette, the Hoyas lost to Butler despite leading for nearly 35 minutes of game time. The Bulldogs battled back and prevailed 63-55, snapping a two-game losing skid.
Butler star guard Aaron Thompson was back after missing about three weeks with a knee injury, but he showed some signs of rust early and the Hoyas jumped out to a 14-6 lead. Behind stellar offensive play by Chuck Harris, the Bulldogs narrowed the gap, trailing 29-27 with 4:20 remaining in the first half, but a quick spurt by Georgetown gave them a seven-point lead at the break.
The Hoyas managed to maintain a slim lead until the clock crept under 8 minutes; a Harris layup and a Jair Bolden triple tied the game. The two teams then traded punches with Jamorko Pickett scoring four for Georgetown and Bryce Golden and Bolden chipping in two apiece for Butler.
After Pickett’s layup at the 4:29 mark, the Bulldogs tightened up their already stingy defense – Georgetown wouldn’t score again. Butler held the Hoyas to just 33.9% shooting and dominated the turnover battle 15-6. The Dawgs’ stellar defense and ability to control the tempo helped them offset a 32-44 rebound disadvantage.
Offensively, it was Harris who carried Butler. The freshman phenom led the team with 18 points and five assists. He also recorded two steals and didn’t turn the ball over. With Thompson back and Christian David’s return seemingly on the horizon (he dressed Wednesday but didn’t play), things are trending up for the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown squad will be searching for answers after dropping its fourth straight. Pickett led the Hoyas with 12 points, but shot just 4/13, and Jahvon Blair had one of his worst offensive efforts of the season, scoring just 11 on 4/16 shooting.
Butler improves to 2-3 in BIG EAST play while Georgetown falls to 1-5, ahead of only winless DePaul.
Georgetown: Identity Crisis
The Hoyas have shown that they have great potential on their roster, jumping out to significant leads against Villanova, Marquette, and now Butler, but they’ve been unable to close the deal in several instances this year. It seems they are struggling from a bit of an identity crisis. At times, they like to get out and run and push the tempo. However, with their great rebounding talent and budding star Qudus Wahab, they also like to press their advantage inside. When they are going through a bad stretch and need to stop the bleeding, it seems they don’t know where to turn. While Ewing calls strategic timeouts, the team comes out of them seemingly without a focused plan. This program has been through a lot over the last couple years, so it’s perhaps unfair to criticize Ewing, but he needs to work to help his team establish an identity.
Butler: Dominant Defense
Butler’s program has been defined by defense for decades, but the Bulldogs haven’t always been elite on that end of the court since joining the BIG EAST. This year’s team has definitely had some rough patches, but the defense has steadily improved. It all came together against the Hoyas as, in addition to the development, Thompson returned. Georgetown was suffocated in the second half. There is no question that Butler has a lot of issues, especially offensively, but if they defend like they did Wednesday, they could hang around with almost anybody.
Butler hosts UConn on Saturday, January 9 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Georgetown plays Syracuse on Saturday, January 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET.