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LINKS: Georgetown Blows Another Lead, Loses to Butler

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Was it the Butler defense or the Hoyas seeing ghosts? Why not both?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 06 Georgetown at Butler Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Georgetown Hoyas (3-7, 1-5) blew yet another lead on Wednesday night, losing to the Butler Bulldogs (3-5, 2-3), 55-63, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

While non-basketball events of the day will overshadow this game, the annals of history may note that this game was yet another poor finish for Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas.

Butler beat writers seem to think that the Bulldogs’ defense, complete with a healthy-ish Aaron Thompson covering Jahvon Blair, was responsible for the 2-19 shooting in the last 9+ minutes, but GU fans know better.

We all detect the symptoms of failure down the stretch: (1) turnovers and (2) poor shooting and/or shot selection. The question up for debate is: What are the causes of these maladies?

Everyone watching the game foresees the opponent’s backcourt defensive pressure coming when they are down 10 with 10 minutes remaining. Why can’t Ewing’s teams handle it? Why does scoring become so hard?

Thinking about last year’s Butler game, the key to success was an experienced point guard in Terrell Allen, along with Jagan Mosely. The prior year had Greg Malinowski shooting and assisting. The year before saw Trey Dickerson score 18 on 7 for 8 shooting, with 3 assists (along with 27 from forward Marcus Derrickson and 17 from center Jessie Govan). Where was the “Butler Way” then? In fact, Georgetown’s best conference wins in recent years were almost always led by above-ordinary guard play. Ewing’s pace all but demands it. Unfortunately, this iteration of the Hoyas looks more like Mulmore and Dickerson in a new offense than the chemistry and experience of Mosely and Allen (still, they were on the floor for the St. John’s game collapse in the BIG EAST Tournament last year).

Which brings me to my latest excuse—Dante Harris is pretty good for a freshman, but Ewing is clearly missing Jalen Harris as another ball handler. Ewing is relying on the younger Harris a bit too much. Even thinking back to this recruiting class originally including Tyler Beard before his post-grad year, Ewing’s roster plans were foiled yet again. It didn’t even take injury or exodus.

If Jalen Harris does not return to Georgetown very soon this season, Ewing needs to find ways to lighten the burden for Dante Harris. Blair and Harris playin 38 minutes wore out their legs down the stretch. Whether the help comes from more early minutes for TJ Berger at PG to get comfortable, or putting the ball in Don Carey’s hands as a “1” from time to time, the team runs better with a pass-first guard—who can hit an open three—leading the team. Dante Harris just can’t do it himself, quite yet.

Of course, Georgetown’s pace of play does not help with stopping opponents’ runs. If the Hoyas continue to push this wildly without fortifying the ball handling duties, more blown leads will happen.

Maybe Ewing slows parts of the offense down a bit for Syracuse on Saturday, if not for the season.

Here are the links:

Georgetown lets another double-digit lead slip away in a loss to Butler | WASHINGTONPOST

The Hoyas let another double-digit lead slip away Wednesday despite leading most of the night as Butler rallied late for a 63-55 victory. The Bulldogs ended the game on a 17-4 run, taking their first lead since 3-0 on a Bryce Golden jumper with 1:49 remaining, and held on as the Hoyas’ offense disappeared. Georgetown (3-7, 1-5 Big East) shot 24.1 percent in the second half and missed 14 of its last 15 shots. On the flip side, the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-3) shot 41.9 percent in the second half, which wasn’t great but was enough. A Jamorko Pickett layup with 4:29 to go was the last Georgetown field goal of the game.

“Same thing that’s been going on for the last however many games,” Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing said. “Bad decisions. Bad shots. Turnovers. The same things that’s been our Achilles’ heel. The same things we talked about, watch film about, practice and try to do different things about after our last game.

Defense Down the Stretch Lifts @ButlerMBB Over Georgetown, 63-55 | BUTLERSPORTS

A stellar defensive effort by the Bulldogs held Georgetown to 24-percent shooting in the second half, which allowed the Bulldogs to overcome a seven-point halftime deficit. “Our transition defensive was not good in the first half; we didn’t get back and get set,” said Butler coach LaVall Jordan. “We challenged our guys at halftime to make sure that they saw our halfcourt defense. We ran harder, talked more and our shot discipline on the offensive end helped our defense. And obviously having (Aaron Thompson) back makes a huge difference.

Thompson returned to the Butler line-up after missing the team’s last five games with a knee injury. He played a large role in holding Georgetown’s Jahvon Blair to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Blair entered the game as the BIG EAST’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.0 points per game.

Butler vs. Georgetown: Beyond the box score | THEBUTLERCOLLEGIAN

Georgetown came out swinging in the first half, but Butler weathered the storm. The Hoyas have developed a reputation around the country as a team that jumps out to first-half leads even against the best opponents on their schedule. Georgetown led at the break versus the likes of West Virginia, Villanova and Marquette. Patrick Ewing’s group enjoyed similar success in the first half at Hinkle on Wednesday night, connecting on six 3-pointers and limiting the Bulldogs to just 34 percent shooting from the field. However, like the three games mentioned previously, the Hoyas coughed up their lead in the final 20 minutes.

Georgetown scored just four points in the final nine minutes of the second half, scoring a disappointing 21 for the frame. The other key for the Hoyas through the first 30 minutes of the game was their ability to score off second chances. The length of Qudus Wahab and Jamorko Pickett really got to Butler’s defense, which had been pretty efficient at securing defensive rebounds up until tonight. However, in the second half, the Bulldog offense was able to score enough baskets to slow down the quick-tempo attack of Georgetown, leading to more half-court offense for the Hoyas, which played right into Butler’s hands.

Hoyas fall at Butler with another second half shutdown - The Georgetown Voice | GEORGETOWNVOICE

Like clockwork, the Hoyas began the second half allowing a jumper to senior guard Aaron Thompson, turning the ball over, and seeing Chuck Harris sink a three from the corner. This forced Ewing to call for time less than a minute into the half. Though the Hoyas committed two early turnovers, they were able to get the ball inside to Wahab and increase the pace of the game, trading baskets with the Bulldogs to maintain a two-possession edge.

Graduate forward Chudier Bile started to come alive in the second half, knocking down a wide open three and grabbing two offensive rebounds to set up second-chance opportunities. Meanwhile, Butler started the second half cold, shooting 5-15 from the field and 1-6 from three. Though the Hoyas had five turnovers in the first eight minutes of the half, they held onto their lead due to this poor shooting.

Georgetown Coughs Up Another Halftime Lead, Falls to Butler, 63-55 | HILLTOPHOOPS.SUBSTACK

Patrick Ewing continues to limit the opportunities given to freshmen not named Dante Harris on this team so far this season. While Harris played 38 minutes, finishing with eight points, one rebound, two assists, and three turnovers, the other three freshman on the team played a combined nine minutes in the game.

For a rebuilding team that needs to develop its young talent for 2021 and beyond, that is simply unacceptable, no matter how ugly the results may be. Certainly, the results up to this point have been ugly enough, and that’s with playing the older guys on the team. Ewing has very little to lose by giving more minutes to Jamari Sibley, T.J. Berger, and Kobe Clark, and a lot to potentially gain.