Bulldog beatdown: Hoyas suffer crushing home defeat to Butler

January 24, 2024

Photo by Daniel Rankin

Georgetown men’s basketball (8-11, 1-7 BIG EAST) dropped another frustrating home game on Tuesday night to Butler (13-7, 4-5 BIG EAST), extending their losing streak to four games with the 90-66 loss.

The game was circled on the calendar for many attentive Hoya fans as a winnable one going into the evening, as the Bulldogs had a turbulent start to their BIG EAST schedule. Though they got the better of Georgetown in their Indianapolis matchup on Dec. 19, 74-64, more recently the Bulldogs were beaten badly by Xavier (10-9, 4-4 BIG EAST), a team Georgetown nearly beat before losing by one in their most recent outing. 

The Hoyas had about as much momentum as a team on a three-game losing streak could have, exceeding expectations in losses to Seton Hall (13-6, 6-2 BIG EAST), No. 4 UConn (17-2, 7-1 BIG EAST), and Xavier. In the first moments of Tuesday’s game, it seemed they would maintain that momentum, as the ball moved well, the threes fell, and the defense was for the most part doing its job. With 9:30 to go in the first half, the Hoyas led 23-20.

Unfortunately, most students in attendance missed that competitive, well-balanced stretch of basketball. With a 6:30 p.m. weekday tipoff, most student buses did not arrive until around that ten-minute mark in the first half because they were trapped in rush hour traffic in downtown D.C. as the Hoyas had their best stretch of the night. Only a couple rows worth of students were on the early-arriving buses—in fact, it’s likely that more students arrived on time to GU Politics’ watch party for the New Hampshire Republican primary than did to the Georgetown-Butler game. 

All most students got to see was the woe that ensued in the last 30 minutes. All of a sudden, the Georgetown defense began to give way, conceding easy layups and second-chance buckets, as the Butler Bulldogs rattled off a 15-point run to get to 35-23. Junior guard Pierre Brooks II led the way in the first half for Butler, scoring 13 of those 15, and 18 points in the half, having his way with the Georgetown guards.

Off the strength of that run, Butler went into the break up 44-32 and never looked back in the second half, despite Brooks cooling off and finishing with just 20 points. Georgetown struggled on both sides of the floor in both halves, ultimately finishing with 14 fewer points in the paint and a 34.8% field goal percentage to Butler’s 56.9%.

Butler did not have the strongest offensive paint presence in the form of a dominant big man (the only true center they played, senior Andre Screen, missed all three of his shots from the floor and logged three of eight from the stripe). Nonetheless, they were able to work their way into the paint from the outside thanks to their slashing guards, and were able to score when they got there thanks to Georgetown’s lack of interior defense. All five of the Bulldogs starters had efficient double-digit-scoring nights.

Georgetown men's basketball guard Jayden Epps attempts a three-pointer against ButlerPhoto by Daniel Rankin

Meanwhile, Georgetown’s offense struggled to find efficient looks. Sophomore guard Jayden Epps led the way for the Hoyas with 16 points, but did so on 19 shots, including 13 from beyond the arc of which he converted only two. 

Epps has, throughout the season, been the failsafe for an otherwise pretty limited Hoya offense, and in general he’s done well in that role, leading the BIG EAST in points per game and shining in a 30-point outing against Xavier on Friday. But when his shots aren’t falling, as they weren’t Tuesday night, it becomes painfully clear that these Hoyas lack any truly good secondary scoring options.

As the second half progressed, head coach Ed Cooley became more and more visibly frustrated. At one point, he turned to urge the fans to get louder, which they did—though unfortunately for both him and said fans, the players only continued to allow good shots on one end and failed to sink any of their own on the other. At another, he was given a technical foul for dissent in the middle of a 13-point Butler run. At a third, he actually sat down on the bench as the team huddled in the middle of the floor during a timeout, apparently so irate with his players that he could not stand to coach them at that moment.

Georgetown men's basketball head coach Ed Cooley stands on the court complaining to the refereePhoto by Daniel Rankin

None of his frustration seemed to motivate Georgetown to play better on the floor, as the Hoyas continued to struggle defensively down the stretch. The Hoyas closed out play by bringing on graduate guard Jonathan Kazor and freshman forward Austin Montgomery, both walk-ons. Kazor, in his first minutes on the court at Georgetown, assisted Montgomery on a late three-pointer that got many remaining attendees on their feet, and kept the forward shooting a perfect 100% on the season (two shots, both of them threes).

Butler then ran the rest of the clock down on their 24-point victory, and fans headed for the exits; likely more disappointed than they could have imagined being when they entered Capital One Arena. On the shuttle back to campus, two sad freshmen seated behind this reporter called Wisemiller’s Deli to glumly place an order—a Hot Chick with no tomatoes and added onions, and a chicken parm.

Though they won’t be going into the high-emotion, high-intensity Providence away game on Saturday with quite the momentum they were hoping for, the Hoyas may still have a glimmer of hope in that the Friars (12-6, 3-4 BIG EAST) have been struggling as of late. Having lost their star player, junior forward Bryce Hopkins, to a season-ending ACL injury, Providence dropped four straight in conference before correcting course against DePaul (3-15, 0-7 BIG EAST). They face Seton Hall on Wednesday before hosting the Hoyas in Rhode Island on Saturday. That game, Cooley’s return to his hometown and longtime coaching spot, tips off at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. For continued coverage and updates on Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.

Graham Krewinghaus
Graham was the editor-in-chief for the Spring 2024 semester. He cares too much about the Boston Celtics, and the proper amount about the Georgetown Voice.

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