WASHINGTON, D.C. — Freshman Kamar Baldwin scored a career-high 16 points as the No. 18 Bulldogs followed up their upset win over No. 1 Villanova by going into snowy Washington D.C. and knocking off Georgetown in overtime, 85-76.
Kelan Martin added 11 points for the Bulldogs, who are now 14-2 on the season with one of the best profiles in the sport. They beat Indiana. They beat Cincinnati. They beat Arizona in Las Vegas, a neutral site game with a crowd that was anything-but. They won at Utah. They were the first team to beat Villanova since March 12th, 2016.
And while you may not know any of the names on Butler, that’s may be precisely what makes the Bulldogs so good.
Martin was an NBC Sports Midseason All-American, but you wouldn’t know it if you watched the game on Saturday. He was 3-for-12 from the floor and fired up a couple of terrible shots down the stretch, including an airball at the end of regulation. Andrew Chrabacsz, who is probably Butler’s second-best player, wasn’t all that good either, finishing with nine points and four boards on 4-for-10 shooting.
Off-nights from your two best players is not the best way to win road games in league play, but Butler was able to do just that.
Baldwin, for one. He may be the quickest player in all of college basketball, and he showed it on Saturday, getting his career-high on an array of nifty drives to the rim while knocking down a trio of threes. That’s a nice third option to have. It’s also nice have a guy like Kethan Savage on the roster, a fifth-year senior that battled an illness at the started of the year but entered Saturday averaging 11.0 points in Big East play; he had 13 points, including seven in a late 11-2 run, when Butler knocked off Villanova, and scored six of his 11 points on Saturday in the extra period.
And then there’s Nate Fowler, a sophomore big man that entered Saturday averaging just 11.6 minutes per game. Against the Hoyas, Fowler not only played the crunch time minutes, but he scored Butler’s last five points in regulation and scored on a putback to give the Bulldogs a 76-70 lead with just over a minute to play in OT.
Put all of that together, and what you get is this Butler team.
They have a star that can carry them, that can win a game on his own, in Martin. Ask Indiana, who watched Martin score 28 points against them despite going scoreless for the first 15 minutes. They have an all-conference caliber secondary option in Chrabacsz. And they have a trio of role players that have proven to have the mettle to win league games for them on the road.
Jagan Mosely scored a career-high 20 points for the Hoyas, while L.J. Peak added 22 points and Marcus Derrickson chipped in with 14, but it wasn’t enough the Hoyas, who entered the afternoon 8-7 on the season after their first 0-3 start in the Big East since 1999. That was the final year of John Thompson II’s tenure with the Hoyas, which is ironic considering the current angst among Hoya fans with the Thompson regime. Georgetown now does not have a Big East win over a team not named St. John’s or DePaul since Jan. 26th of last season, which was 14 games ago.
This win would have done quite a bit to ease the pressure weighing on this program, because despite being a team that is sitting at .500 on the season, Georgetown is more relevant in the NCAA tournament picture than people may realize. Yes, the Hoyas lost at home to Arkansas State, which isn’t quite as bad as that team’s league affiliation may have you believe. And yes, they lost at Providence and at Marquette to start off Big East play, but road games in conference are never going to be a black mark on anyone’s résumé.
Put another way, Georgetown’s current profile is not good.
But it’s salvageable. That win they have over Oregon? It’s only going to look better and better as the season goes on, and the good thing about being in a league as tough as the Big East is that, in theory, there would be plenty of quality wins available. The Hoyas missed on two of them now, but they still have six games left against Villanova, Butler, Creighton and Xavier. And they still have four games left against St. John’s and DePaul. Three of the four games they play against Providence, Marquette and Seton Hall are at home.
It’s not impossible.
It’s not over yet.
But if they don’t get things turned around soon, it will be the third time in the last four seasons that JT III has missed the NCAA tournament.