Butler-Georgetown Preview

BY foxsports • December 13, 2009

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.

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