Butler vs. Georgetown: What you need to know

Kamar Baldwin drives toward the basket during Butler’s win over Georgetown on Jan. 29. Baldwin and the Bulldogs host the Hoyas on Feb. 15. Xan Korman / Collegian file photo.

CHRIS BROWN | SPORTS EDITOR | cbbrown@butler.edu

The Butler men’s basketball team will attempt to pick up its third straight home win and sweep the season series with Georgetown when the Bulldogs host the Hoyas for a Saturday matinee. Butler battled foul trouble and injuries to Aaron Thompson and Derrik Smits, but held on to defeat Xavier 66-61 on Feb. 12 in a midweek matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Now 7-5 in conference play, the Bulldogs are tied for fourth in the Big East standings. Here’s everything you need to know as Butler hosts the Hoyas:

Who: No. 19 Butler (19-6, 7-5 BE) vs. Georgetown (14-10, 4-7 BE)

When: Feb. 15, 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

How to watch/listen: FOX, 93.5FM/107.5FM/1070AM

  1. For Butler to control this game, it needs to get off to a better start against the Hoyas this time around.

The Bulldogs’ Jan. 28 win over Georgetown the nation’s capital was truly a tale of two halves. The Hoyas knocked down just shy of half of their field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes and led 43-32 at halftime. In the first half, Butler sent Georgetown to the charity stripe for 14 free throws and turned the ball over 12 times, which resulted in 17 Hoyas points.

Butler was able to cut down on the sloppy mistakes in the second half, and that made a major impact. The Bulldogs went on an 18-3 run coming out of halftime to take the lead. They turned the ball over just three times in the second half and sent Georgetown to the charity stripe for just four free throws.

Butler’s 69-64 victory was their fifth straight on Georgetown’s home court. The Hoyas, interestingly enough, have won three consecutive contests at Hinkle Fieldhouse. While Butler could certainly once again make a second-half offensive push against Georgetown – which has the worst scoring defense in the conference – it would undoubtedly make for a much more comfortable game if the Bulldogs can come out of the gates strong without falling into some of the bad habits that have hurt them throughout Big East play.

  1. Both teams could be without their starting point guard.

Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said on Thursday that Thompson is experiencing concussion symptoms and is day-to-day. With that in mind, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if he is unable to play against Georgetown. The Bulldogs could also be without Derrik Smits, as the center, who’s missed time with injuries to both knees this season, reaggravated a left knee injury late in the second half against Xavier.

Georgetown is also dealing with injuries to key players. The team’s top two scorers, Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven, are both day-to-day with foot and ankle injuries, respectively, Hoyas head coach Patrick Ewing told reporters on Feb. 13. Neither had practiced all week up to that point, so it certainly seems like a likely scenario includes neither taking the court on Saturday.

Being without its top two scorers – a point guard and center – would obviously present a major obstacle for the Hoyas. Both Butler and Georgetown would need to make adjustments if they don’t have the facilitator of their offense, but the Bulldogs certainly seem more capable of handling the loss. Kamar Baldwin is averaging roughly 16 points per game and has shown the ability to serve as primary ball-handler in Thompson’s absence. Behind McClung and Yurtseven, the Hoyas’ top scoring option is junior guard Jahvon Blair. He’s averaging just under 10 points per game this season, but is coming off a 30-point performance against DePaul and has averaged nearly 24 points in the Hoyas’ last three contests.

Of course, at this point it’s possible that all four of the aforementioned players will take the court on Saturday. It’s also possible that none of them do. No matter what, there will almost certainly have to be plenty of adjustments by both teams as a result of these injury situations.

  1. Controlling the interior will be important.

Led by Yurtseven’s 10.1 boards per game, Georgetown is one of the better rebounding teams in the country. The Hoyas as 24th in the country in rebounds per game, averaging just under 40 per contest. For comparison, Butler is 213th in the nation in that category. Georgetown is particularly strong at rebounding on the offensive end, ranking 29th in the country with 12.5 offensive boards per game.

For Butler, one key will be limiting Georgetown’s second-chance opportunities. In three of the Hoyas’ four Big East wins, they’ve scored nine or more second-chance points. Assuming health, Georgetown does have a high-powered offense, one which ranks third in the conference in points per game with 76.8. The Bulldogs will need to control the interior and prevent the Hoyas’ from getting extra looks. If they’re able to do that, it could make for a long game for Georgetown, regardless of the two teams’ injury statuses.

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