The Butler Bulldogs picked up their tenth win of the season by completely shutting down the NJIT Highlanders. It was a choppy game, with neither team able to establish a rhythm on offense in the first half. That suited Butler more than NJIT, as the Bulldogs took at 29-16 lead into the half. The Bulldogs were a bit sloppy in the first half, but took better care of the basketball with just three turnovers in the final twenty minutes.
NJIT came into the game with a penchant for making threes, but not much else. Butler took that option away and held the Highlanders to just 5 of 21 shooting from beyond the arc. Overall, NJIT shot 30% from the floor. Leading scorer Damon Lynnscored 11 but missed 11 of his 14 shot attempts.
Butler Breakdown (Player Grades)-
Starting point guard Alex Barlow (B) had a relatively quiet game after making the Big East Honor Roll last week. Seven points, two assists, and four rebounds in 24 minutes. He turned the ball over just once and had only two fouls but played a nice role in Butler's perimeter defense.
Off the bench, Rene Castro (A-) made his case for the backup PG job. 10 points attacking the basket in 19 minutes. Butler could use another scoring threat and it sounds like the coaching staff is pleased with Castro's development in practice over the past month. Maybe he will see a bigger role in Big East play?
Kellen Dunham (C-) had a tough game shooting, finishing with just nine points on 3-9 from the field. As a team, Butler made just three of its 13 attempts from beyond the arc.
Khyle Marshall (B+) picked up most of the slack for Dunham's underwhelming performance, scoring 21 with five boards. He was very efficient, making eight of his 10 shots and adding a steal on the defensive end.
Kameron Woods (B+) and Erik Fromm (B-) were steady in the front-court. Woods scored nine and pulled down 12 boards, adding to his Big East rebounding lead. Fromm made one of his two three-point attempts and had six rebounds, a solid if not completely inspiring performance.
Elijah Brown (C-) played a bit better than his stat line indicates. No points as his scoring trouble continue, but he tried to facilitate a bit more on offense and got a pair of assists. Coach Brandon Miller will surely be happy to just see Brown contribute in more ways than just shooting from the hip. He's clearly got a ton of talent but needs to grow as a player before Butler can expect a reliable performance from him. Andrew Chrabascz (C+) had two points and five rebounds in 17 minutes to wrap up Butler's eight-man rotation.
Villanova's loss at Syracuse means that the Wildcats will be looking to bounce back on New Year's Eve at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler will still have an opportunity to knock-off a top ten opponent (or close to that) in their first Big East matchup.