Game Preview: Butler vs. Vanderbilt

Michael Hickey

The Bulldogs continue to roll along their non-conference schedule. Next opponent up is the first major conference foe of the year.

When: November 19

Time: 6:00 EST

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

How to watch: Fox Sports 1

After a tight home win against Princeton, the Butler Bulldogs take on their first top 100 opponent of the season in the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Bulldog bites

Kellen Dunham led the team to victory on Saturday with a career-high 26 points. Vanderbilt's size and shooting ability gave Butler some difficulty, in addition to tight officiating that saw four Bulldogs finish with four fouls or more.

Two games into the new year, Butler has excelled by limiting second chances for their opponents (3rd best defensive rebounding percentage in the country) and not shooting themselves in the foot (13th lowest turnover percentage). Dunham, Elijah Brown, and Erik Fromm have been the centerpieces of the offense, using 24 percent or more of the team's possessions when on the floor. No one else in the rotation uses more than 19 percent.

Dunham is the team's best player. In addition to using the highest percentage of possessions, he's been very efficient. Only three Big East players boast a higher offensive rating through their team's first two or three games so far this year. It's really really early, but so far Dunham has looked like a legitimate major conference scorer. And the numbers seem to back it up.

Commodore clips

Vanderbilt was set to return all five starters from a team that went 8-10 last year in the SEC. That continuity was needed to boost coach Kevin Stallings' program back to the level of two years ago, when the Commodores won the SEC conference tournament.

Then Vanderbilt weathered a turbulent offseason that even surpassed Butler's turnover. Sheldon Jeter transferred to Pitt, Kevin Bright signed a pro contract in Europe, and leading scorer Kedren Johnson was suspended for the season following "some very poor judgment."

That leaves Kyle Fuller, Rod Odom, and Dai-Jon Parker to carry the team. Odom has played the best, averaging 19.5 points per game against Georgia St. and Lipscomb. He's been absolutely deadly from three-point range (64.3 percent). Parker has also focused on his long-range game, taking all but one of his shots from beyond the arc.

Boosted by Odom, Parker, and Eric McClellan, Vanderbilt ranks top-ten nationally in effective field-goal percentage. Butler will need to focus on its perimeter defense once again. Vanderbilt's defense is just average and they aren't a threat to pressure the ball much (340th in opponent turnover percentage).

Check out Anchor of Gold for a full Vanderbilt season preview here.

Prediction

KenPom: Butler 71, Princeton 65 (Butler win probability- 72 percent)

Pomeroy's numbers see an even tougher game for Butler than against Princeton. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they should already be prepared to face a hot-shooting opponent. Odom gets his points, but coach Brandon Miller calls on Alex Barlow to keep McClellan and Parker from making a real impact. Dunham and Elijah Brown give the Bulldogs enough of a spark to stay ahead again, just like Saturday.

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