To start out 2023, your Georgetown Hoyas (0-3) host the Butler Bulldogs (0-3) in Washington, DC on Sunday evening at 6:30 PM (FS1). Both teams are hunting for their first conference win after three failed attempts. The Bulldogs have lost by 20+ points in each of their BIG EAST games against UConn, Creighton, and Providence, with the losses to the Huskies and Friars in Hinkle. While Georgetown has scored 73+ points in all three, Butler has trouble breaking 60. Patrick Ewing’s squad may have a chance to break the streak.
Bulldogs Tip Off 2023 in Nation's Capital Against Georgetown - Butler University Athletics https://t.co/UFGnWnaFvi— Butler Basketball HQ (@ButlerBBHQ) December 31, 2022
Butler’s best win this season is Kansas State (Kenpom #52) with wins against Yale (#82) and BYU (#85), too. In addition to losses to UConn, Creighton, and Providence, Butler has lost to Penn State, Tennessee, and NC State. Hoyas fans who remember the 2007 Final Four would always like to hand Butler’s new-but-old head coach Thad Matta an “L.”
The Bulldogs are struggling offensively right now and scored only 46, 56, and 52 points in their BIG EAST games. In conference play, their field goal percentage has been 35.7%, three point percentage is 16.7% (7 for 42), and they’ve been out rebounded 129 to 75. Matta has been fluctuating lineups and challenging his team for more effort and “toughness.”
Accordingly, there are exactly two ways this Butler-Georgetown game can go:
(A) Georgetown easily handles an opponent who is not shooting well, not rebounding well, struggling to find toughness and generally should not be able to score above 60 points; or
(B) Georgetown’s rapid pace, predictable turnovers, and porous perimeter defense is just what the doctor ordered for an ailing Butler team.
#Butler ranks 8th nationally in FG% at the rim, but only 304th in attempt rate.— Lukas Harkins (@hardwiredsports) December 28, 2022
Conversely, it ranks 34th in long 2s attempt rate.
The shot chart of the starting backcourt indicates a need to better prioritize getting to the rim and creating 3-point looks. pic.twitter.com/hdOqQipIks
Also, Butler is 6-1 over its last seven road games at Georgetown, with the lone win played at McDonough in 2021.
Maybe this one will also go the Butler way.
Here are the links:
The Bulldogs look to snap a three-game losing streak and pick up their first BIG EAST win of the season Sunday when they travel to the nation’s capital to face Georgetown... Butler is 6-1 over its last seven road games at Georgetown... Simas Lukosius led the Bulldogs with 13 points off the bench in the team’s most recent game against Georgetown, a 56-53 win Jan. 29, 2022 at Hinkle Fieldhouse...
Manny Bates has 35 blocks already this season, moving him just two away from tenth on Butler’s single-season list... Bates went 6-for-7 from the field in Thursday’s loss to Providence; he has shot 50 percent or better in 12 of the team’s 14 games this season... Bates is 18th nationally with a 63.8 field goal percentage...
Butler made its first change of the season in its starting line-up Thursday against Providence, inserting Jalen Thomas into the first five... In his third game since returning from a pulmonary embolism, Thomas tied for the team lead with a season-best 12 points; he also paced the Bulldogs with a season-high six rebounds.
New Year, Fresh Start ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/7dGNwJbVnD— Butler Basketball HQ (@ButlerBBHQ) December 30, 2022
In each of Butler’s first three Big East games, the Bulldogs have gone stretches where they just can’t buy a basket. Against UConn, they went six minutes without a point from 11:48 to 5:43 in the first half. To start the second half against Creighton over three and a half minutes ticked off the clock without Butler finding the bottom of the net.
The woes continued against Providence. With eight minutes left in the first half, Butler had already gone at least 3:20 without scoring on two separate occasions and they finished the first half with zero field goals in the final 6:34. It doesn’t take long to understand why these things are happening in Big East play. Through three Big East games – albeit against arguably three of the four best teams in the league – Butler is dead last at KenPom in offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding rate, 2-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.
In short, they’re not doing anything on even an average level relative to the rest of the Big East. Against the Friars, Butler was 2-of-16 from beyond the arc dropping their 3-point FG percentage to 16.7 percent. The Bulldogs have struggled rebounding the basketball all season and those struggles continue on both ends of the floor, especially on the offensive glass. There are places on offense to get easy baskets, up efficiency and just make life easier. Second chance opportunities. The charity stripe. And the 3-point line. Butler isn’t performing well in any of those categories and they don’t have any one player that is good enough on his own offensively to mitigate those shortcomings. Butler’s offense needs easy baskets and it’s not getting any of them.
The Bulldogs are 8-4 in the first year of Thad Matta’s second tenure as head coach (he coached them for one year, 2000-01, previously). Their style of play is very different from what we’ve come to expect from the Bulldogs — they play faster and they shoot better than years past. Since joining the Big East, their adjusted tempo has been at least one point under the D1 average every year (and nearly five points less in each of the last three years). This year, their adjusted tempo of 68.6 is right at the D1 average. They’ve shaved nearly three seconds off their average possession length from the last two years of the LaVall Jordan era teams, with their offensive possessions lasting 17.3 seconds this year.
Their effective field goal percentage is 55.0%, 38th best in D1 after being 47.1% (295th) in that stat a year ago. They’ve made 35.7% of their threes (88th), up from 29.7% (333rd) a year ago — and 55.8% of their twos (36th), up from 48.9% (210th). They’ve shot 50 percent or better from the field eight times after hitting that mark just six times all of last season. In a similar fashion, Butler already has six games this season shooting 40 percent or better from three-point range, which was only done four times during the 2021-22 season.
All five starters are averaging double figures on the season, led by Chuck Harris (14.3 points per game). He led Butler in scoring each of the last two years, as well, and as a junior he’s become a more efficient shooter which has helped him up his numbers across the board. Harris scored a career-high 32 in early December against Tennesee Tech, making six threes. In two games against the Jays a year ago, he was held in check — he had 14 in the game in Indianapolis (4-of-9 shooting inside the arc, 2-of-6 outside), and in Omaha he had one lone point on just four shot attempts. But in 2020-21, he had 29 points in Omaha in the regular season finale, a game CU fans remember well for the way he torched their defense.
The Bulldogs have an efficient and balanced attack, with five players averaging double figures in an offense that ranks 12th nationally in effective field goal percentage. While Butler doesn’t shoot a ton of threes, it has a pair of efficient sharpshooters in Purdue transfer Eric Hunter Jr., who led the Big 10 in 3-point percentage last season, and Simas Lukosius, who broke out last season as a freshman with an impressive performance against the Huskies. Both players shoot over 41 percent from deep and average 12.5 and 11.5 points per game respectively.
Lukosius, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, is also the team’s best distributor and has shown an impressive ability to score at all three levels. With the Lithuanian product being a major key to the Bulldogs’ offense, he’ll likely be Andre Jackson’s primary defensive target.
Aside from Lukosius, Jayden Taylor leads Butler with 14.9 points per game, followed closely by Chuck Harris at 14.5 points per game. This duo represents the core of the Bulldogs’ offense along with big man Manny Bates, an NC State transfer who has made a significant impact in the post. Bates, averaging 13.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, does most of his damage around the rim and is a physical presence at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds...
Bates does get some practice in against former Buckeye legend and former First Team All-American big man Greg Oden, who serves as Butler’s Director of Basketball Operations and occasionally suits up for practice.
The Butler Bulldogs remained winless in Big East action as they had a rough shooting night from long range against the Creighton Bluejays, who broke a six-game losing skid with a 78-56 victory.
Chuck Harris scored 14 points for the Bulldogs (8-5, 0-2), who were outrebounded 37-19. Jalen Thomas and Ali Ali, transfers who recently returned from injury, combined for 15 off the bench.
Butler made just two 3-pointers, while Creighton shot better than 56% overall and 50% from long range...
“We lost our intensity, we lost our activity defensively, it was not there,” Butler coach Thad Matta said. “Guys weren’t rotating the way they needed to rotate. We weren’t as intense defensively as we needed to be.”
These players cannot succeed with the offense Matta is running. Ball screen, endless dribbling offense never creates an easy look. Just a huge talent gap between Butler players and other BE teams.— Eastside Pacer Fan (@GSavetheplanet) December 30, 2022
Bates has just one block in his past two games, another sign he’s not being as aggressive as he was to start the season. Part of the reason to dial back was to avoid foul trouble.
The Dawgs had been hampered by injury throughout the season, but now, with several players coming back, including backup center Jalen Thomas, Bates should return to the aggressive style he showed during his debut without having to worry about foul trouble and playing 35-plus minutes a game...
At 6-7, Simas Lukosius has a rare blend of length and playmaking ability. He leads Butler with 45 assists...
An offense running through Lukosius, Harris and Bates has the making of an extremely efficient unit. Both Harris and Lukosius could work to feed Bates inside, while Harris’ attacking setups catch-and-shoot opportunities for Lukosius, Taylor and Eric Hunter Jr.