Feb. 8, 2014
By Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON - Once again Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas as Georgetown defeated Butler, 71-63, on Saturday afternoon in front of a season high 13,011 fans at the Verizon Center.
Starks scored 19 points and added seven assists while Smith-Rivera had 18 points and five rebounds as Georgetown won its third straight game to improve to 14-9 and 5-6 in the BIG EAST.
Butler, which dropped a second straight game to fall to 10-13 and 2-9 in the BIG EAST, was led by Andrew Chrabascz's career-high 24 points.
Markel Starks was honored at center court in a pre-game ceremony with Head Coach John Thompson III and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed and presented with a game ball for becoming the 44th member in Georgetown's 1,000 career point club.
Starks responded to the pre-game recognition by leading the Hoyas in scoring for the seventh-straight game as he and backcourt running mate D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera combined to score 37 of Georgetown's 71 points and combing to go 13-of-14 from the free throw line.
As his career begins to hit the final home stretch, Starks is taking things in stride and enjoying the ride as the Hoyas begin to find their groove in the second half of the conference schedule.
"It was just a fun game," Starks said with his customary big grin. "Today's game was just a fun game. Right now I'm just having fun. We've dug ourselves a hole and we're fighting to get out of it."
Georgetown received excellent contributions off the bench, this time from junior forward Jabril Trawick and senior forward Aaron Bowen. The two swingmen combined to score 16 of the Hoyas 18 points off the bench, each chipping in eight points apiece.
After trailing for most of the first half it was a Bowen three-pointer right in front of the Bulldogs bench that gave the Hoyas a 21-20 lead with 3:52 seconds until halftime. Georgetown took a 29-25 into halftime and would never trail in the second half.
Later in the second half after Butler had cut Georgetown's 11-point lead down to four at 60-56, Trawick got open down low for a layup to push the Hoyas advantage back to 62-56 with 2:02 remaining in the game.
"Those two were key," Thompson III said. "Jabril's post up was maybe the biggest basket of the game to tell you the truth. We needed that but those two - that's their responsibilities to come in and give us a boost to give us energy, to make the hustle plays, and they've both done a very good job and today was no exception."
Senior forward Nate Lubick narrowly missed his first ever double-double finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
With the game still in the balance in the second half, Starks took a pass from Smith-Rivera and immediately pushed the ball up the court. Driving down the lane, Starks drew the Bulldog defenders and whipped a no look pass to Lubick at the rim. Lubick flushed home a two handed dunk that pushed the Hoyas lead to 53-44 and brought the loud Gray Out home crowd to their feet.
"Big momentum shift obviously," Starks said during the post-game press conference. "I know nine times out of ten that when I'm driving I know Nate is going to be there regardless. I saw an opportunity to drive, he was there, stepped up, dunked it and the crowd went wild."
Georgetown never let Butler get closer than four points the rest of the way as Smith-Rivera went 8-of-8 from the line in the second half to keep the Bulldogs at arm's length. Smith-River has connected on 41 of his last 42 free throws over the last seven games.
Georgetown shot 54 percent in the second half, finishing 27-of-55 (49 percent) for the game. The Hoyas were able to get quality shot attempts thanks to valuing the ball. As a team Georgetown has 14 assists to just seven turnovers.
In playing all 40 minutes, Starks went without a turnover despite having the ball in his hands a majority of the time.
"There's no tomorrow for [Nate] and I and for the other seniors, there's no tomorrow for us," Starks said. "Obviously the urgent button has been hit, we all have a sense of urgency as a program."
Georgetown closes out a weekend homestand on Monday, Feb. 10, hosting long-time BIG EAST rival Providence at Verizon Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the team's downtown home and the game will be shown live on Fox Sports 1, with Justin Kutcher and Donny Marshall calling all of the action. Fans locally can tune in to Sports Talk 570 AM for the call of Rich Chvotkin.
Notes: Starks moved past Ashanit Cook on the all-time leading scorers list and into 38th place. With his seven assists, Starks is now tied for 22nd place in school history with 258.