Two consecutive wins against ranked opponents may prove the turning point for the Georgetown men’s basketball team (12-10, 3-6 Big East), which entered the week facing its worst record to open Big East play in program history. After The defeating No. 16 Creighton (19-3, 6-3 Big East) at home on Wednesday, the Blue and Gray traveled to Indianapolis to take on No. 11 Butler (18-4, 7-3 Big East). Saturday night’s contest, an 85-81 victory, snapped Butler’s 14-game home undefeated streak and brought the Hoyas record in Hinkle Fieldhouse to 3-1 since the reformulation of the Big East in the 2013-14 season. Georgetown was led by 22 points from junior guard L.J. Peak and 20 points from both sophomore center Jessie Govan and graduate student guard Rodney Pryor. Butler was paced junior guard Kelan Martin, who recorded 22 points.
The game began at a frenetic pace, as the teams exchanged three pointers early and often. A three pointer from Govan at the 14:03 mark gave Georgetown a slim 12-9 advantage. As the half continued, the Hoyas extended this lead to as many as seven midway through the period. Butler utilized Martin’s contributions throughout the period to stay within striking distance. His free throw with four minutes to play brought Butler to within one, 31-30. The teams exchanged buckets for the remainder of the period and the Bulldogs entered the intermission with a 41-40 lead behind Martin’s 16 points.
In the second half, this competitive play persisted with both teams struggling to gain a sizeable advantage. Georgetown remained committed to its Princeton offensive scheme when Butler played man-to-man defense and found major success via backdoor cuts. Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson’s backdoor cut led to a layup at the 16:05 mark, cutting the Bulldog lead to just one. Butler, now playing through freshman guard Kamar Baldwin and senior forward Andrew Chrabascz rather than Martin, countered by frequently driving through the lane and passing to open teammates for layups or jump shots. Chrabascz’s layup with 11:28 remaining gave Butler a one point lead, but Peak responded just 20 seconds later with a three-pointer. Although the game was tied throughout the rest of the half, the Hoyas never surrendered this lead.
Rodney Pryor, who was held scoreless when Butler visited the Verizon Center on Jan. 7, shredded the Butler defense in the second half. Starting with a layup with 9:07 remaining, Pryor scored 11 straight points for the Blue and Gray—which included three consecutive three-pointers—in the span of two minutes to give the Hoyas a seven point lead. Butler responded with a quick 7-0 run of its own, but Bulldogs were unable to stop the trio of Govan, Peak, and Pryor.
With the game tied with just over four minutes remaining, Govan made a layup, which was followed by a three-pointer from Peak on the next possession. The Bulldogs responded with a three-pointer with just under three minutes remaining. Both teams struggled to score in the ensuing two minutes, but Govan provided Georgetown with a much needed NBA-range three-pointer with the shot clock expiring at the 1:05 mark. Chrabascz responded with a layup 20 seconds later and Butler called timeout, facing an 82-79 deficit. Out of the timeout, Georgetown weathered the Bulldog press and held the ball. With the shot clock winding down, junior guard Jonathan Mulmore, who made his second consecutive start, made a difficult driving layup to give the Hoyas a commanding 84-79 lead with :17 to play. From there, the Hoyas hung on for the victory.
It was an excellent shooting night for Georgetown, which shot 64 percent from the field, including 73 percent in the second half. The Hoyas shot a blazing 50 percent from deep and 83 percent from the foul line. This hot shooting countered Butler’s 10 point advantage in the paint and seven point advantage in points off turnovers.
Georgetown has now defeated back-to-back ranked teams for the first time since 2014. The victory also snaps the Blue and Gray’s streak of 23 straight conference games without consecutive wins.
The Hoyas will travel to Chicago on Tuesday night for a date with the DePaul Blue Demons (8-13, 1-7 Big East), who currently sit at the bottom of the Big East standings. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 9:00 pm and will be broadcast on FS1.