Led by the hot three point shooting of senior wing Sean McDermott, the Butler Bulldogs howled as part of a second half surge against the Georgetown Hoyas en route to a 69-64 “dog fight” of another tough Big East road win.
The Butler Bulldogs were incredibly sluggish in the first half.
The Bulldogs had 12 turnovers, 12 team fouls (including three starters: Kamar Baldwin, Bryce Golden, and Jordan Tucker with two fouls each), and couldn’t seem to stay out of their way–as even though the Hoyas didn’t play particularly well, Butler just made too many mistakes to overcome and trailed by 11 points, 43-32 at halftime.
The Bulldogs also only got to the free throw line 4 times at the end of the first half–as the team showed general passiveness in attacking the rim.
It’s unclear what was said at halftime by head coach LaVall Jordan, his players, or the remaining coaching staff, but this was a truly different dog that came out for the second half.
The Bulldogs went on an 18-3 run to start the second half–which included McDermott hitting three, three point shots in a span of one minute and thirty-seven seconds–and completely erased their 11 point deficit into a 3 point Butler lead, 50-46, with 14:07 left in regulation.
The Bulldogs would continue to maintain around a 4 point lead until the 4:39 mark, where Georgetown tied the game up at 60-60 a piece with 4:39 left in the game.
Baldwin tried a difficult layup attempt on the ensuing possession, but senior backup wing Henry Baddley may have had the hustle play of the game, flying along the baseline and somehow tipping in Baldwin’s field goal attempt for the putback deuce:
Georgetown wouldn’t go quietly into the night though and again, tied this game up at 64-64, and that’s where the biggest play of the game occurred around the one minute mark.
With Baldwin having the basketball just above the top of the key, the Bulldogs used McDermott as his oncoming screener–which put the Hoyas defense into a bind.
Either they could help on Baldwin using McDermott’s defender on the screen or run the risk of leaving Butler’s best three point shooter too open–if they either hedged too much or full-out trapped with both defenders.
The Hoyas chose helping on Baldwin, and instead of screening, McDermott ‘slipped’ his screen attempt and kicked out, received the pass, and drilled the clutch wide open three, putting Butler up 67-64 with 49.9 seconds left:
That would be the game-winning dagger for Butler.
Butler would get an ensuing defensive stop, Baldwin would hit a pair of free throws, and the Bulldogs head back to Hinkle with an improbable comeback Big East road win–having trailed by as many as 14 points.
McDermott led the way for Butler with 25 points (9-12 FG, 7-10 3 PT FG), 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block in 37 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Big East’s reigning Player of the Week, Kamar Baldwin, chipped in 13 points (4-12 FG, 0-2 3 PT FG), 6 assists, and 3 rebounds in 34 minutes of play–as he caught fire too in the second half with only 1 point (0-2 FG) at halftime.
Led by their seniors, the Bulldogs attacked the rim and upped their overall intensity and execution in the second half.
#16 Butler will look to continue its momentum and two game Big East winning streak against the Providence Friars (11-10, 4-4 Big East) next on Saturday, 2 PM EST, at Hinkle Fieldhouse (FS1).
It’s worth noting that Butler is currently #15 in the KenPom rankings.