Your Georgetown Hoyas (7-21, 2-15 BIG EAST) traveled to play the Butler Bulldogs (13-15, 5-12) this weekend and came away with a rare road WIN, prevailing 68-62 over a team that upset the #13 squad in the country only 9 days ago. (By the transitive property, the Hoyas should really be ranked next week.) Qudus Wahab returned to the team with 14 points and 8 rebounds in tow, while Brandon Murray added 17 points & 6 rebounds. Jay Heath added 12 points and Bryson Mozone snared 8 rebounds. For all the jokes about learning to win the type of game you play, Georgetown showed today that with a little bit of free throw competence and rebounding attentiveness, there is a path to victory through unattractive chaos.
There was conservation of available Hoyas today, with Wahab returning to the lineup after missing a game for personal reasons, while Jordan Riley was out due to an illness. Butler was going to be without Manny Bates in their frontcourt, creating a small opening for the visitors. Both teams had taken Ls on Valentine’s Day, with Georgetown having an uninspiring soiree in Newark against Seton Hall and the Bulldogs on the wrong side of a tussle with the Wildcats. Butler is 9th in the conference and came into this one 5-11 in BIG EAST play, which is a record at which no self-aware Hoyas fan can currently throw shade.
Akok Akok opened the scoring for Georgetown with a smooth three-pointer, but that was the only basket for his team prior to the first media break, set against three jumpers and a pair of foul shots for Butler. A couple empty possessions later, Jayden Taylor’s triple put the Bulldogs on top 11-3. Wayne Bristol Jr. broke the drought with a contested basket from long range before Butler answered back on the next possession. Jay Heath’s off-balance, one-legged fadeaway suggested that he does in fact practice that shot, keeping Georgetown within single digits.
Murray’s second chance bucket shrunk the deficit to seven, and Butler’s attempt at a highlight reel transition dunk out of that sequence backfired (...a familiar outcome with which one can sympathize...). Bristol emerged from that chaos with the ball and threw down a dunk the other end, capping off an 8-0 Hoyas run. Wahab’s pair of free throws pulled Georgetown within three, then Murray briefly cut the lead to one off the fast break. With 9:25 remaining in the opening period, the Hoyas trailed 19-18.
Both pace and execution had picked up (relative to the clunky, chaotic baseline for both teams) by midway through the first half. A flurry of scoring followed, where Wahab and Taylor each had multiple baskets for their respective teams. Butler led 32-28 at the U4 media break. The Bulldogs had racked up nearly twice as many fouls as Georgetown, who were able to take some advantage of being in the bonus to keep things closer than it otherwise would have been at the half. The Hoyas went into the locker room down 37-32.
The second half got off to a hot start, with the teams both scoring on each of their first two possessions. Things reverted to the mean somewhat after that sequence, with the Hoyas exploiting Butler for a steal but unable to convert. Third time was the charm on a protracted offensive possession for Georgetown, with misses from Heath and Spears, corralled by Wahab and ultimately passed outside to Murray who hit the three. Amazing what happens when offensive execution plays out at the team level and is not limited to individual efforts on a given possession.
The Bulldogs got baskets from Lukosius and Jalen Thomas, while the Hoyas continued to find success funneling their offense through Wahab and opportunistic shots from Heath. It was 46-45 at the U16, as close as it could be without Georgetown managing to equalize. When Murray missed a long three that turned into a fast break dunk for Butler, during a sequence where the Hoyas came up empty on four (or five?) consecutive offensive possessions, it was easy to make the mental connection to see how this sequence was emblematic of how multiple games have gotten away from the team. Questionable shot selection paired with defensive lapses will do that, and Georgetown was in a 7-point hole.
It was an open triple from the corner by Mozone that shook things loose and coincided with a notable increase in energy level from the squad. Butler missed a three, while Murray made a highly improbable, acrobatic, prayer of shot from behind his head to make it a one possession game. The Bulldogs missed an open bucket, then the teams traded turnovers. Heath broke through and put the Hoyas on top, 55-54, with a triple at 7:51. It was Georgetown’s first lead since the game was 3-2. Wahab’s turnaround jumper from the top of the key edged the Hoyas ahead by two, while Butler came up empty on two consecutive rushed possessions, then Murray added another off the drive to put Georgetown ahead 62-58 with 4:04 remaining. Thad Matta decided that was a good moment for a timeout, attempting to prevent the momentum shift from spiraling.
A close miss from Wahab elicited an audible scream of frustration from someone on the court, while Lukosius broke a 90 second scoring drought (for both teams) on the next possession. Heath stepped out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs. Georgetown was rebounding aggressively and fought to get it back off the next Butler miss. The Bulldogs could be scrappy too, though, and collected the carom when Murray missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with exactly one minute left to play. Georgetown led 62-60. Official review of an out of bounds play gave it back to the Hoyas with 40.8 on the clock, but they were forced to call a timeout as Butler’s defenders were swarming all options on the inbounds.
It took some creative passing and clean execution for Georgetown to even get the ball across midcourt, where the Bulldogs elected to foul Murray, gambling that he would miss the free throws. It was a bad bet. The sophomore made both, but then Hunter Jr. answered with a layup past Akok at the other end. With 25.3 seconds left, the Hoyas hung onto a slim 64-62 advantage. A soaring inbounds pass to Akok which took minutes off my life as he initially bobbled it stayed with Georgetown, even as a pass to Mozone got poked out of bounds off Jayden Taylor. Butler let another half-dozen seconds trickle off the clock before fouling Primo Spears, who made both. Hunter missed a wide-open three in transition, and upon collecting the rebound, Heath was immediately fouled. His pair turned the four-point cushion into what would be the final 6-point lead.
With DSR in attendance (a man who knows something about stealing wins in this building), Georgetown got the W today at Hinkle, 68-62. This was the Hoyas’ first road victory since late February 2021, and as with every single BIG EAST victory, the team should savor it. All we can ask on any given day is for this team to do enough things right, and today they did just that.
Up next, Georgetown returns home to host St. John’s for a 9pm tipoff this Wednesday (2/22), scheduled to air on CBSSN.
Hoya Saxa, and Hoyas Win!