Game 16: Georgetown Hoyas (8-7) vs No. 18 Butler Bulldogs (13-2)
Series: Hoyas lead 5-3
Where/When: Verizon Center, Saturday noon
Line: Butler -3
KenPom: Butler 75-71, 63 percent
“At this point the opponent is irrelevant. We’ve lost three games to start league play, it’s still early in the season...but we’ve got to get going here.” - Coach John Thompson III before Butler on Friday afternoon
JT3 is probably right in the above quote. It’s not about Butler. It’s definitely all about Georgetown right now.
If Georgetown is ever going to get this season back on track it has to happen now. The first reason is, as everybody knows, the Hoyas are 0-3 to start league play. That's not great. Falling behind any further will virtually make it impossible, if it’s not already, to come back and make something of 2017. Secondly, Georgetown has four straight home games starting against Butler. There is one non-conference game worked into the mix with Connecticut coming in next weekend. If you can’t get going at home, you can’t get going.
For Georgetown this is just the third time that the Hoyas have started 0-3 in league play since the BIG EAST formed in 1979. I was wrong on this stat a few days ago so forgive me but I was able to clean it up for the late, late twitter crowd.
In 1998-99 the Hoyas started a program worst 0-4 in the BIG EAST before finishing 6-12 in the league and making the NIT. This was such a horrible start that John Thompson Jr decided enough was enough as he turned the keys to the program over to his top assistant in Craig Esherick.
In the following season of 1999-2000, Georgetown also started 0-3 before finishing 6-10 in the league and again making the NIT. That season, in my opinion, was kind of saved by that triple overtime victory against UVA in Charlottesville. Gharun Hester, anyone? The Hoyas rose from the ashes of this season to get back into the Sweet 16 the following year.
Going back to the end of last season, Georgetown has lost a program record nine straight BIG EAST regular season games. This includes the final six games of last season and the first three of this season.
Here’s a look at the longest BIG EAST regular season losing streaks in Georgetown history along with some of my worst memories mixed in to really set the scene. Enjoy!
9 games - Current
Worst part of this - so far - was losing 88-87 at Marquette after being up a point and needing just one final stop in the dying moments. Unfortunately for Hoya fans everywhere D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera fouled Luke Fischer with 1.2 seconds remaining and the center drained them both.
7 games - 2004
Hoyas lost their last nine games under Craig Esherick, seven of which were regular season conference games. The other two were to Temple and then Boston College in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Worst part of this streak was losing at home on a Gerry McNamara buzzer beater from deep.)
6 games - 1998 (2 seasons)
Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr’s longest conference losing streak also doubled as his last six BIG EAST regular season games in charge of the Hoyas. This included the last two games of the 1997-98 season and the first four games of the 1998-99 season. Just to show how long ago this really was this losing streak only includes one current member of the BIG EAST in Seton Hall. The other five schools - Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, Miami, and UConn - have all moved on to different leagues.
5 games - 1993
None of these five games were particularly close other than the fact that the Providence game went into overtime even though the Friars eventually won by eight. Worst part of this stretch is that the Hoyas entered it ranked No. 21 - they had been as high as No. 10 earlier - and after this tailspin never fully recovered. In Othella Harrington’s freshman season, Georgetown ultimately missed the NCAA Tournament; snapping a streak of 14 consecutive bids.
5 games - 2003
If you throw in a non-conference loss against UCLA this was actually a mid-season six game losing streak that included three one-point losses - one of which was in overtime - and another overtime loss that ended up being a bit of a blowout at the hands of Seton Hall. Georgetown recovered to make the NIT and actually picked up a nice win along the way in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels before losing a heartbreaker to St. John’s in the NIT Final as Gerald Riley’s last second shot was off the mark.
5 games - 2005
JT3 unexpectedly had the Hoyas at 8-3 in the league in his first season but the Hoyas stumbled out of NCAA Tournament contention late by losing their final five BIG EAST regular season games. Worst part of this streak was the beginning as the Hoyas dropped a head scratcher game at MSG to St. John’s who finished just 3-13, missing the conference tournament altogether.
5 games - 2014
This streak was a very late Markel Starks three-pointer against Butler away from being a seven gamer. In the previous game against Providence, the Hoyas not only lost to the Friars but they lost Jabril Trawick for six weeks. The bounce back victory against Butler was then followed by this five game losing streak. Worst part of this streak was blowing a seven point lead at home to Marquette only to eventually lose by eight in overtime. John Caprio had a really bad over the back foul on Davante Gardner after Reggie Cameron missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 28 seconds remaining. The rest is losing history.
Campbell Out: “I was told no for tomorrow,” JT3 said when asked if he would have junior guard Tre Campbell available against Butler. There is currently no timetable for Campbell’s return.
AP Struggles: Since stunning then-No. 5 Xavier on the road last season the Hoyas are just 1-7 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Going back even further Georgetown is 9-19 against ranked foes since Otto Porter left school in 2013.
Reason to be cynical: Isaac Copeland isn’t available to win this game from the corner so that’s a problem.
Reason to be delusional: Georgetown is, at some point, going to win in the regular season against a team not named DePaul or St. John’s. Maybe it’s tomorrow.
Prediction: I think Georgetown catches Butler in a trap game after beating No. 1 Villanova and before getting No. 10 Creighton. Sad that Georgetown is the afterthought in that three game stretch but that’s the deal right now. Hoyas 72, Butler 70