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ALL ABOARD THE DELUSION TRAIN: Georgetown Scores Huge Upset at #11 Butler, 85-81

Hoyas beat second straight ranked opponent and rays of sunlight burst over the horizon.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Butler Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

HO. LEE. SHIT. That was some stuff. And no, I’m not talking about an Internet hero referring to the President as an “ol’ sunny D lookn ass,” although that was terrific.

I’m talking about your fighting got damn Georgetown Hoyas, back from the dead, back from a near program-worst start to conference play, back from one humiliating defeat after another, shaking off the yoke of asterisk wins here, shorthanded opponents there. The blue and gray went on the road and punched #11 Butler, got punched back, but then got up and kept on punching their way to an 85-81 upset of the Bulldogs.

One game after turning in their best defensive performance of the season in a home drubbing of Creighton, Georgetown tonight dominated on of the offensive end. The Hoyas drained one shot after another, shooting a scorching 63.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. Hoyas Rodney Pryor, LJ Peak, and Jessie Govan connected on three triples apiece and all scored at least 20 points.

Despite all that offensive firepower, the game remained close. Butler matched buckets with the Hoyas throughout, and the lead changed 10 times in the second half alone. Georgetown’s defense, a season-long weakness, looked like it might be its undoing. Butler penetrated the lane, cut along the baseline, and generally found seams in the Hoyas’ aggressive defense, which blitzed ball-handlers and scrambled to keep the Bulldogs off-balance.

But Georgetown pulled and stayed ahead down the stretch, generating baskets first systematically and then miraculously. Hot Rod Pryor scored 11 straight points because he’s Hot Rod Pryor and he’s seen all of this before. The graduate transfer rained fire from deep, fueling an ultra-small lineup that also featured Peak, Jagan Mosely, and Jonathan Mulmore. When Butler matched Pryor’s run to tie the game yet again, Kaleb Johnson shook free on a classic Princeton back-cut and converted Govan’s high-post feed for the layup. Peak smartly cut away from a Govan hand-off at the elbow, retreating to the wing, where Govan fed him for an open three.

And then came the truly improbable. With the Hoyas up just 2 and a possession seemingly wasted, Govan buried an NBA-range three as the shot clock expired. The next time down, with Georgetown still up just a possession, Mulmore took his man to the basket and converted a leaning, contorting runner that banked high off the glass.

It would be Mulmore’s only field goal of the game, but it iced Georgetown’s best win of the season. Sure, tonight was the Hoyas’ third victory over a ranked opponent, but the other two came against short-handed foes (Creighton lacked its offensive engine, Mo Watson, while Oregon had Dillon Brooks at half strength) and this was the first such win on the road.

This has been such a confusing season. A year that began with press and ball screens devolved to plain-Jane defense and disorganized offensive sludge. Now, we have blitzing defense and a return to Princeton orthodoxy, all crisp back-cuts and open threes. Has JT3 finally figured out something that works? Or are we just seeing the crest of a wave that eventually might soon come crashing down?

It’s hard to know. Last week, Georgetown looked dead in the water, approaching its worst-ever conference start and careening toward a second straight losing season. Despite admirable effort, the Hoyas seemed like they couldn’t get out of their own way.

Now, the Hoyas have beaten two straight ranked opponents, which hasn’t happened since the glory days of Otto Porter. The offense looks competent. The defense looks functional. DePaul is NeXt, and then Seton Hall at home. After that, a winning season? The NCAA Tournament? Who the hell knows? Hoya Saxa.