Georgetown beats Butler 71-63
February 8th, 2014 (AP) – About midway through the first half of Georgetown’s game against Butler on Saturday, the Hoyas were playing like the team that had lost five consecutive games a couple weeks ago.
They were turning the ball over, missing shots and looking nothing like the team on a winning streak that includes a victory over then-No. 7 Michigan State.
Then the Hoyas said, “Enough is enough,” according to Markel Starks. “It was like, we do have a game today. It’s a `Gray Out.’ We’ve gotta come ready to play.
“And then coach kind of looked at me like, `C’mon, man, let’s go.”
Starks scored 19 points, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 18, and the Hoyas (14-9, 5-6 Big East) shook off the sluggish start, overcame an early seven-point first-half deficit, and defeated Butler 71-63 at Verizon Center for their third consecutive win.
Starks played all 40 minutes and distributed seven assists to zero turnovers. After five giveaways in the game’s first 12 minutes, the Hoyas committed just two in the final 28 minutes. It was the second consecutive game in which Georgetown had only seven turnovers.
“I think the guys, they understand what we’re looking for, they’re not forcing anything,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We understand, this group — we can’t turn the ball over, we have to get to the foul line.”
It starts with Starks, who was one point shy of scoring 20 or more for the fifth time in six games. He also was 5 for 6 from the free-throw line.
“Markel Starks doesn’t get tired,” Thompson said.
Georgetown led 29-25 at halftime and extended its advantage to 58-47 on a jumper by Smith-Rivera with 6:53 left. Butler battled back, getting within four points twice in the last 2:30, but Georgetown had the answers. Starks’ jumper with 45 seconds left gave the Hoyas a 66-59 cushion.
Georgetown shot 53 percent in the second half and made 16 of 19 from the free-throw line. Smith-Rivera converted all eight of his free-throw attempts, helping Georgetown shoot 16 of 19 from the line. He’s now 40 of 41 from the stripe over his last six games, allowing him to be effective despite having missed 17 consecutive 3-pointers.
Andrew Chrabascz scored a career-high 24 and Kellen Dunham added 15 for the Bulldogs (12-11, 2-9), who fell back into a last-place tie with DePaul during their first season in the Big East.
Chrabascz scored 15 consecutive Butler points spanning the end of the first half and start of the second, and finished 9-of-13 from the field. His previous career high was also against the Hoyas. He had 14 points in the Bulldogs’ 70-67 overtime home loss to Georgetown Jan. 11.
Butler shot 55 percent in the second half and made four 3-pointers to just one for the Hoyas, but the Bulldogs couldn’t string together defensive stops when needed.
“It was our defense, we couldn’t get a stop,” Butler coach Brandon Miller said. “In the second half they got the ball to the paint and stepped up and made shots.
“Georgetown has one of the best backcourts in the Big East.”
Nate Lubick had 10 points and nine rebounds for Georgetown. The Hoyas are in the middle of a stretch of games against teams struggling in conference play, having defeated DePaul for the 14th consecutive time Monday. After next playing host to Providence, the Hoyas will visit St. John’s and Seton Hall. Four of the Hoyas’ conference wins are against the league’s two worst teams.
Butler missed its first eight field-goal attempts and started the game 5 of 20, but led 11-4 early and 13-10 midway through the first half as Georgetown matched the Bulldogs’ offensive struggles.
The Hoyas took a 21-20 lead with 3:30 remaining on a 3-pointer by Reggie Cameron, and Aaron Bowen’s tip-in right before the halftime buzzer extended Georgetown’s advantage to four.
Butler was making its first trip to Verizon Center since a magical opening weekend of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which sparked the Bulldogs’ run to a second straight NCAA final. In two nail-biters, Matt Howard’s tip-in defeated Old Dominion in the opener, then Howard made two free throws with less than a second left to defeat No. 1 seed Pittsburgh and send the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16.
With Khyle Marshall (10 points) and Erik Fromm the lone players from that 2011 team still on the roster, the Bulldogs were unable to rekindle the magic Saturday.