|Offensive Rebound %
Late in the first half, Khyle Marshall collapsed in a heap with an injury to his right leg. With the Butler Bulldogs heading into the break down six at home against Marquette, the home crowd had reason to worry. Not only did the Bulldogs look to be on their way to a sixth straight loss to Big East opponents, but the team's senior leader would certainly be out for the rest of the game... if not longer.
Despite not being able to place any weight on his leg with trainers helping him off the court, Marshall returned in the second period to help Butler roar back into this one. An Elijah Brown three-pointer pulled the Bulldogs within nine with 13:35 remaining in regulation and ignited a 21-5 run that enlivened the Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd and put the Bulldogs on track for their first victory in the new conference. Of course, it wouldn't end on an easy note. Not with this Butler team.
Despite a strong overall performance, Marshall missed five free throws in the final five minutes, allowing Marquette to send the game to overtime. For the sixth time this season, and the fourth contest in six games, Butler needed an extra period to decide things. On this occasion, however, the Bulldogs were not to be deterred. An 11-2 spurt to begin overtime gave Butler enough cushion to go ahead for good and end its nightmarish start to 2014.
Butler Breakdown (Player Grades)-
Alex Barlow (C+) suffered through his second awful shooting performance in three games, but this time the rest of his contributions outweighed the lack of buckets. Four assists, four steals, and seven rebounds for Butler's catalyst. He kept the pressure on Marquette's guards and took away enough second chances to bring Butler nearly even with one of the best rebounding teams in the conference.
Kellen Dunham (C) got his 18, including 2-5 from beyond the arc. A relatively understated performance for Butler's star, but Khyle Marshall (C+) and Kameron Woods (A-) stole most of the spotlight. Marshall was most of the offense for Butler in the first half and showed some serious guts coming back from what looked to be a serious injury. Typically horrendous foul shooting threatened to ruin the game, however, as Marshall finished 2-10 from the charity stripe. He's missed half his free throws or more in a game on ten occasions now.
Thankfully for Butler, Woods was there to seal it. Always a reliable rebounder, Woods has looked out of his element trying to attack the basket more this season. He shot better from the floor this time, making five of eight attempts. But it was on the free throw line that the lanky forward made his mark. Woods shot 8-12 from there, scoring a career-high 18 points to go with 13 boards.
Erik Fromm (B) also impressed with strong interior defense and a couple clutch threes. Marquette's starting big men shot a collective 11 for 34 from the field despite a significant size advantage down low.
Butler went with a short seven-man rotation. Freshmen Andrew Chrabascz (C) and Elijah Brown (C-) struggled for the most part, but hooked up to spark the team's run in the second half. Brown looks to have lost his confidence shooting the ball that he had for most of the first half of the season, but drained a three and dished it to his classmate for a key basket a few minutes later that gave the Bulldogs the spark they needed to get back in the game.
Now that the monkey is off Brandon Miller's team, perhaps the Bulldogs will be able to show the form that made them so competitive in contests with Oklahoma State and Villanova earlier this season. The next five games include four road trips, but all against middle-tier opponents. For now, the Bulldogs get to enjoy their win and see what the rest of the season has in store.