Spurred on by an 11-0 run to erase a Ball State advantage in the second half, the Butler Bulldogs came from behind to claim their first victory away from Hinkle Fieldhouse.
For the second straight game, Kellen Dunhamseemed to force shots against athletic defenders. This time, however, he was unable to bail out the team with trips to the free throw line or a couple timely three-pointers. Dunham finished with eight points, his lowest output of the season, on 2-of-13 from the field. Butler's offensive success will depend on a consistent output from Dunham this year. Nights like this in Big East play will surely spell defeat.
Alex Barlow picked up a bit of the slack. The junior defensive specialist stayed on the court, only picking up two fouls in a more loosely officiated contest. Barlow scored 10 and added three steals on a good defensive night for the Bulldogs. Elijah Brown shook off a tough outing against Vanderbilt to score 13 on 5-of-9 shooting off the bench.
Once again, Khyle Marshallplayed a key role with 14 points and nine rebounds, but missed all four of his free throw attempts. He's a career 55 percent from the charity stripe and doesn't seem to be getting any more reliable in his senior year. Look for future opponents to try to slow down Marshall by getting a bit more physical. When he gets fouled, Marshall is a real liability at the line.
Erik Fromm struggled to contribute in 14 minutes, but Andrew Chrabascz brought down six offensive rebounds. The freshman Chrabascz came in less heralded than his classmate Nolan Berry, but seems to be making a case for Fromm's playing time. A game like tonight has to make coach Brandon Millerkeep a tight leash on Fromm for the Old Spice Classic.
Kameron Woodsadded another double-double, a nightly occurrence for the reliable forward. Though Butler was outrebounded by a MAC team, Woods and Marshall got their fair share on both ends of the court.
Majok Majok played well for the Ball St. Cardinals, leading all scorers with 15 points and finishing with a double-double of his own. The Cardinals outshot and outrebounded their in-state rival, but turned over the ball too many times to earn the win. Led by Barlow and Chrabascz (three a piece), Butler wound up with 10 steals on the night -- an improvement on the defensive end tempered a bit by giving up some open threes.
Butler's effective field goal percentage was worse than in any game last year. And the Bulldogs still came away with a win. That's good enough for now. Butler remains one of only five undefeated Big East teams and heads next to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic. A first-round matchup with Washington St. and potential date with Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State will prove to be a real early-season test of this team's potential.
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