After dropping a close game to the No. 10 Providence Friars (18-4, 6-3 Big East) 73-69, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (13-9, 6-3 Big East) will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana to take on the Butler Bulldogs (14-7, 3-6 in Big East) Tuesday night.
Halfway through their Big East campaign, the Hoyas sit tied for third in the conference, and hope to make a case for an NCAA tournament bid next month. In Saturday’s loss to Providence, the Hoyas were led by sophomore guard L.J. Peak, who scored 19 points off the bench in 27 minutes. Georgetown also received a boost from senior center Bradley Hayes, who scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, registering his first double-double since December. Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland continued his offensive slump, scoring only two points in 19 minutes of play.
The Bulldogs enter Tuesday’s game fresh off of a 75-69 loss against the Golden Eagles of Marquette (15-7, 4-5 Big East). Butler dropped this contest on the road despite the best efforts of sophomore forward Kelan Martin, who scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-20 from the field. Senior guard Kellen Dunham and senior forward Roosevelt Jones each added 15 a piece in the loss. Marquette freshman phenom Henry Ellenson played the best game of his collegiate career, with a double-double of 32 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention six blocks. With the loss, the Bulldogs dropped to eighth place in the conference in what continues to be a nightmare season for Head Coach Chris Holtmann’s squad.
Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III had nothing but praise for the two veteran Bulldogs, Jones and Dunham.
“Roosevelt Jones is one of my favorite players in the Big East, with the exception of tomorrow and whenever they come back here. They have veterans between him, and Dunham, that have gone through it. Both of those two kids are so poised.”
Jones, a well-known Hoya-killer, averages 6.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, in addition to 14.5 points off 51 percent shooting.
“It’s a gift,” Thompson said. “He’s just a scorer. It’s so unique.”
“He’s good with the ball,” added Hayes. “He knows what he’s doing. Like you said, he plays hard. Always on 100 percent. He has that drive to win and we have to have the people defending him wanting it a lot more than he does.”
Dunham sits at fifth on the conference scoring charts with 16.2 points per game
“He reminds me of like a Reggie Miller, Rip Hamilton,” said Thompson of the 6-foot-6 guard. “He doesn’t need time or space to get the shot off. And he’s in perpetual motion. He’s running 100 miles an hour. He’s in better shape than most people he plays against. It’s effective…As soon as you relax, as soon as you’re tired, boom, he’s running off another screen somewhere.”
With time running out for these two clubs to grab the necessary marquee wins to fill an attractive NCAA Tournament resume, every game now takes on an entire new level of importance.
“I think we’re trying to get that instilled in our guys,” said Hayes. “It’s gotta be now. If we’re gonna do it, we gotta do it now. I think the younger guys are understanding it’s now or never.”
The Hoyas are posed with a gruelling upcoming stretch, including rematches with No. 6 Xavier and No. 10Providence looming on the horizon. If Georgetown has any hope for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth, both Butler games are must-wins.
For Thompson, the situation is simple.
“You gotta win.”