With a raucous, dominant second half that could’ve brought the whole White House down, Butler came away with a 69-64 victory against Georgetown. Following an uneasy start to the game, filled with lazy execution and foul trouble, Sean McDermott and company turned up the heat and never looked back. Let’s look at some key takeaways from the ever-important road win against the Hoyas.
Sean McDermott can carry the team when called upon.
Once a too-skinny, too-slow forward incapable of playing meaningful minutes in the Big East, McDermott has transformed into one of the most important players on this team. In Butler’s worst loss of the season last week at Villanova, he went 0-7 from the three-point line and finished with just two points. McDermott wasn’t going to let that happen again this time. By halftime, he had already equaled his season average for points-per-game. Despite an 11-point deficit going into the second half, it took just under five minutes for the Bulldogs to take the lead back from the Hoyas. The biggest reason? Four straight buckets from McDermott. They never trailed from that moment forward. Add in a team-high in rebounds and steals and the picture becomes even more clear: Butler loses this game convincingly without McDermott’s heroics.
Butler is holding its breath without Aaron Thompson.
Looking at a box score from any given game will not show the impact Thompson has on this team. Without him, the Bulldogs look continually lost on both ends of the court. Even with a 2-0 record in the games he has missed, the need for a game managing point guard is more apparent than ever. In those two games, the Bulldogs are averaging 13 turnovers per contest. For a team that prides itself on patience and taking care of the ball, that would put them right near the bottom with the Big East’s worst teams. In addition, the 89 points given up against Marquette is the highest number they’ve surrendered all season. Even with the unbeaten record, Butler’s lack of a true point guard on the roster is glaring. Kamar Baldwin is much more comfortable playing the off-guard position and Khalif Battle is a true freshman who averaged less than one assist per-game in high school. If the Bulldogs want to continue to survive in the Big East, Aaron Thompson needs to come back sooner than later.
Bryce Golden is the Bulldogs’ big-man of the future.
Golden’s seven points and five rebounds in last night’s game might not jump out as a key takeaway but stay with me. Before McDermott’s barrage of corner threes brought Butler all the way back, Bryce Golden scored five unanswered points himself to begin the half. What made it even more impressive is the way he got them. On both occasions, Golden saw his man was not in good position, spun into the basket and finished with a layup. I haven’t seen so much agility and finesse in a Butler big-man since Andrew Chrabascz. With this only being his second year as a Bulldog, big things are coming in the future for Bryce Golden.
Butler’s next game is Saturday at home against the Providence Friars. The Bulldogs won the first matchup last month with a 70-58 road victory.