March 02, 2015

With the regular season winding down, Butler and Georgetown have most likely done enough to assure themselves of NCAA tournament berths.

Still, these Big East foes have plenty to play for as the No. 21 Bulldogs wrap up their home schedule Tuesday night.

Butler (21-8, 11-5) climbed one game ahead of the Hoyas (18-9, 10-6) for second place in the conference after the teams posted contrasting results over the weekend. The Bulldogs earned a 67-53 victory at DePaul on Saturday, while Georgetown fell 81-70 against St. Johns at Madison Square Garden.

Leading scorer Kellen Dunham led the way with 24 points and Butler outscored the Blue Demons 22-6 at the foul line. The Bulldogs blew an early 10-point lead and trailed by six with 14:35 to go before pulling away.

"DePaul was our sole focus. We didn't talk about anything else," coach Chris Holtmann said. "We have not talked about league standings or where we're at or anything beyond that. We'll talk tomorrow about how we can play better, and then we'll start to prepare for Georgetown."

These teams have already split two meetings this season, with Butler winning 64-58 in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 28. The Hoyas won 61-59 on Jan. 17 behind Isaac Copeland's go-ahead 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining, improving to 4-1 in the all-time series.

Bulldogs junior Roosevelt Jones had a career-high 28 points in that defeat, but Dunham was the only other player to reach double figures with 13. Butler shot 2 of 7 from 3-point range, setting a season-low for makes in league play.

Dunham is averaging 17.0 points to rank third in the Big East, and he's scored 21.5 over his last four home games while shooting 52.0 percent.

"I've been able to hit a few more shots in the sets that we run for me," he said. "The game is a lot easier playing with guys like Roosevelt and him getting in the lane. Like coach says, the paint touches, it's constantly getting the defense to retreat and things like that, which opens it up for me."

Dunham has had to carry an even bigger load without sophomore Andrew Chrabascz, who's missed the last four games with a broken hand. Chrabascz is hoping to return before March Madness, but his status for this game remains up in the air.

The Hoyas had won three in a row before coming up short against the Red Storm. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera matched a season high with 29 points, while Mikael Hopkins added 10 and 14 rebounds, but Georgetown shot 37.9 percent and went 10 for 19 from the foul line.

The 81 points were the most Georgetown has allowed in a regulation game this season. The Hoyas are 11-1 when surrendering 63 or fewer compared to 7-8 when they don't.

Georgetown is holding opponents to a league-low 39.8 percent shooting, while the Bulldogs are giving up a league-low 60.9 points per game.

Butler is 12-1 at home against unranked teams, with its lone defeat coming 66-62 on Jan. 6 to Providence - which joined the rankings last week. The Bulldogs close the regular season Saturday at the Friars, who currently sit in a third-place tie with Georgetown.

The Hoyas are 2-3 against Top 25 foes, and they were blown out in their only such matchup on the road, 69-53 at then-No. 7 Villanova on Feb. 7.

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