Butler vs. Georgetown: What you need to know

Sean McDermott looks for an open move during Butler’s win over Creighton on Jan. 4. McDermott and the Bulldogs take on Georgetown on the road on Jan. 28. Becca Atchley / Collegian file photo.

JOSH MULLENIX | SPORTS EDITOR | jmulleni@butler.edu 

The Butler men’s basketball team narrowly escaped a fourth-straight loss on Friday defeating Marquette 89-85 in overtime thanks to 29 points after halftime from Kamar Baldwin. Now, the Bulldogs take a trip to the nation’s capital to take on a struggling Georgetown team that is 2-5 in Big East play and 12-8 overall. 

Right now, the Bulldogs are 4-3 in Big East play and a road win would catapult them into a tie for third place in the conference with a stretch of four out of five games coming inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

It’s still unclear if Aaron Thompson will return to the lineup. He’s described as “day-to-day” with a wrist injury. Here’s what you need to know as the Bulldogs head to D.C. to try and get a road win against the Hoyas. 

Who: No. 16 Butler (16-4, 4-3 Big East) vs. Georgetown (12-8, 2-5 Big East)

When: Jan. 28, 9 p.m.

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

How to watch/listen: CBS Sports Network, 93.5FM/107.5FM/1070AM

  1. While not quite at the same level, Georgetown’s Mac McClung plays the game in a similar manner to Markus Howard. 

To be clear, Markus Howard was a preseason first team All-American for a reason and Georgetown guard Mac McClung was not. While averaging 16 points per game, McClung is shooting just 40% from the floor and 33% from beyond the arc. He’s not exactly the most efficient scoring threat in the country, but McClung approaches his offensive game with a lot of confidence and he has the ball in his hands a lot just like Howard.

McClung has taken 32.4% of Georgetown’s shots this season and is responsible for 28.5% of the Hoyas possession time this year. Only 36 players in the country take a higher percentage of their team’s shots than McClung. He is going to take a lot of shots and have the ball in his hands on the majority of Georgetown’s offensive possessions.

The formula to slowing down McClung is turning him into a jump shooter only and not letting him get to the front of the rim. In his two best games this season — against St. John’s and Syracuse — McClung shot 10 and 13 free throws, respectively. The best chance to neutralize the sophomore is to keep him in front, turn him into a jump shooter primarily and make him pass the basketball and become a playmaker for the rest of his teammates on offense. 

Whether or not Thompson plays after sitting out against Marquette due to a wrist injury will impact what the defensive scheme looks like against McClung, but either way he’ll be a focus of Butler’s defense.

  1. Shoot it, keep shooting it, and then shoot it some more.

The Hoyas are a horrible 3-point defense team. They are 304th in the country in defending the trifecta and they’ve been just as bad in conference play. Georgetown opponents are shooting 35.9% from the 3-point line during the season and Big East teams are shooting 38.5% from the distance. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are third in conference play on the offensive side of the 3-point line.

Against Marquette, the Bulldogs took just 15 3-pointers. They knocked down six of them but relied on Kamar Baldwin’s mid-range game and the charity stripe against the Golden Eagles. Tonight is the kind of night that the Bulldogs should look for a lot of shots from distance.

The looks will be there, it will just be up to players like Sean McDermott and Butler’s other perimeter threats to knock down the open looks they get. 14 teams have knocked down eight or more threes against the Hoyas this season. Butler needs to take advantage of that hole in the Hoya defense on the road. 

  1. Finish possessions, especially against Omer Yurtseven and a good rebounding team, and no free points.

Ultimately, Butler did a decent job on the boards against Marquette. They won the rebound battle by a single rebound and outscored the Golden Eagles in the second chance points category 10-7. However, things weren’t pretty at times when it came to finishing possessions with a defensive rebound. The Hoyas will make the Bulldogs pay if they don’t rebound it well, specifically on the defensive end.

Led by Omer Yurtseven — who’s averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds — the Hoyas are 29th in the country in rebounds per game, pulling down just under 40 boards per game, and 24th in offensive rebounds through Jan. 26. Yurtseven is averaging 3.7 offensive boards on his own and is just as efficient on the defensive glass. 

This Georgetown offense is high powered. They are 21st at KenPom in offensive efficiency and ranked in the top 40 in points per game, averaging 78 per contest. On the road, Butler can’t afford to give up free shots to a team that doesn’t have any issues scoring the ball. In general, Butler can’t give up free points. No second chance points and keep the Hoyas off the foul line.

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