The Butler Bulldogs hit the game’s first three point shot, a Jair Bolden triple, and then proceeded to trail the Georgetown Hoyas throughout nearly the remainder of the game’s entirety–trailing by as many as 11 points at one time.
Butler kept nipping at the Hoyas’ heels, but couldn’t quite close the gap quite enough to take the actual lead.
The Bulldogs tied it at 51-51 following a huge Bolden made three pointer.
They tied it again at 53-53 after a Bryce Nze layup.
Again, another stalemate at 55-55 after Bolden drilled a floating jumper after a well executed inbounds play.
That is, until the 1:49 mark in the second half when big man Bryce Golden hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to break the 55-55 tie to put the Bulldogs up 57-55, and for good. A possession later, senior point guard Aaron Thompson, who made his well anticipated return, hit a spinning layup off of a ball fake–also right before the shot clock expired.
Butler miraculously scored on consecutive possessions as the shot clock expired and finally had some breathing room with a 59-55 lead with 0:55 seconds left. The Bulldogs would never look back, finishing off the Hoyas, having finally gotten over the hump en route to a come-from-behind 63-55 Big East victory.
However, it wasn’t just that Butler hit some tough ‘prayer’ shots in critical late situations, as the Dawgs defense actually carried them late (and the team also hit some free throws to ice the game):
In particular, Thompson being back in the starting lineup was big for the Bulldogs. The senior floor general improved Butler’s perimeter defense, promoted their ball movement offensively, and the lineup collectively just seemed a lot more poised and comfortable out there with his steadying presence at point guard.
Showing some initial rust, Thompson finished with 8 points (4-8 FG), 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 rebounds, as he ended the game really strong.
Freshman guard Chuck Harris led the Bulldogs with 18 points (including 4-8 from three point shots) and also had 5 assists, 2 steals, and 3 rebounds. He was very impressive again and plays well beyond his year.
Big wing-forward Markeese Hastings gave the Bulldogs some productive minutes off the bench–although he struggled from the 3 point line (0-3). Still, he could prove to be a nice rotational bench piece for Butler against longer teams.
One thing that is worth noting is that freshman guard Myles Tate, who had just scored 22 points against Seton Hall, was 0-4 with 0 points, as he came off the bench as a ‘super-sub/6th man’ in Thompson’s return. Used to being the Bulldogs’ primary ball handler to start the season, Tate will have to make some necessary adjustments regarding his role with Thompson back.
However, Tate should be just fine long-term. He’s too good of a player not to be and a winning one at that.
Where can Butler improve?
Butler shot 7-22 from 3 point range (31.8%) and 10-15 from free throw range (66.7%).
The Bulldogs were also beat on the glass, 44 to 32 total rebounds.
Still, Butler showed great perseverance and never quit, trailing nearly the entirety of the game, and hanging around, only to pull of a late game comeback in the closing minutes.
It was a big, Big East win for a Butler team that desperately needed it–if they’re likewise, planning on ‘hanging around’ in their own highly competitive conference. Georgetown at home is one the Dawgs had to have going forward.
Butler improves to 3-5 (2-3 Big East), and the Bulldogs will host another conference dog, the UConn Huskies (5-1, 2-1 Big East), on Saturday for the first time since their hyped return to the Big East.
UConn is ranked at #27 by KenPom, while Butler is at #84 respectively.
Tip-off is at 4 PM EST Saturday on CBS Sports Network.