Butler-Georgetown Preview

Georgetown’s unbeaten start has come entirely against unranked

opponents, while Butler is still searching for its first win

against a Top-25 foe.

That will give both teams something to prove when the

15th-ranked Hoyas face the No. 22 Bulldogs on Tuesday night at

Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.

Georgetown (6-0) has gone largely untested throughout a soft

early schedule as it tries to return to the NCAA tournament

following a one-year absence. Five of the Hoyas’ wins came by more

than 15 points and those were against teams that currently have

losing records.

But coach John Thompson III has still liked what he has seen

from his club, which finished 16-15 in 2008-09 – its worst record

in his five seasons at the helm. The Hoyas were especially strong

defensively in a 73-46 win over American on Saturday, holding the

Eagles to 27.1 percent shooting.

“I don’t know that I’d ever say that we’re where we should be,

but we’re getting better and I think we’re a significantly better

team today than we were at the start of the season,” Thompson said.

“Hopefully we keep moving in that direction.”

Georgetown’s defense ranks among the top three nationally,

allowing just 53.2 points per game, and the Hoyas have seen

positive signs from an offense that averaged fewer than 70 points

last season.

Four players are averaging more than 11 points, led by sophomore

center Greg Monroe (13.8) and junior guard Chris Wright (13.5). The

Hoyas’ starters had easy nights against American, but they’re eager

for a bigger challenge, which they should get this week.

After Tuesday’s game, the Hoyas travel to Anaheim, Calif. to

face 17th-ranked Washington in the John Wooden Classic on

Saturday.

“I am looking forward to it. I think my teammates are too,” said

Monroe, who had a career-high 13 rebounds against American. “We

have to go over some things to get ready first, but I think

everybody’s looking forward to the trip. Everybody’s ready for the

big stage.”

Butler (6-2) has already had a taste of some quality

competition, losing to then-No. 22 Minnesota and then-No. 19

Clemson in the 76 Classic in Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend. But

both the Golden Gophers and Tigers have since fallen from the

poll.

While the Bulldogs have been a fixture in the national rankings

in recent seasons, they’ve lost eight of their last nine against

Top-25 opponents. This will be their first meeting with

Georgetown.

Coach Brad Stevens’ team opened Horizon League play with an

84-67 win over Valparaiso on Saturday, as Butler shot 56.8 percent

from the field and had five players score in double figures.

Leading scorer Gordon Hayward (15.4 ppg) had a team-high 18

points, and the offensive performance was a big improvement after

the Bulldogs combined to shoot 39.0 percent in their previous five

games.

“I think our guys on one end of the floor, really, really did a

good job,” Stevens said. “Offensively, I thought we were moving the

ball well.”

Stevens wasn’t as pleased with a defense that allowed Valparaiso

to shoot 53.3 percent and hit 7 of 15 from 3-point range. Butler

will have to keep an eye on Georgetown guard Jason Clark, who is 14

of 31 from beyond the arc this season.

It will also try to find an answer inside for the 6-foot-11

Monroe. At 6-8 each, Hayward and junior Matt Howard are the

Bulldogs’ tallest regulars.