The Butler Bulldogs sure do know how to keep things interesting in close games, hanging on again tonight for a close 65-56 victory against the visiting Northwestern Wildcats. The win lifts the Bulldogs to 7-1 on the year, inching closer and closer to the start of Big East play at the end of this month.
Butler has certainly been tested in close games against tougher competition, adding tonight's victory to a list that already includes tight wins against North Carolina and Georgetown. Butler interim head coach Chris Holtmann said that the team was prepared for a dogfight with their Big Ten opponent.
"You know, I didn't say this to the guys, but my thought was that this was going to be a little like going to the dentist," Holtmann said. "It's going to be who could grind out a win. I could not be more proud of our guys' grittiness today."
As has been the case in most games this season, junior guard Kellen Dunham led the way for the Bulldogs, scoring 19 points on 6-9 shooting.Dunham is usually recognized for his shooting ability, but was most impressive tonight when attacking the basket, drawing a multitude of fouls and going 6-6 from the free throw line. Overall, the Bulldogs strayed away from the three-point line, hitting one of only five attempts.
Most of the offensive focus for Butler tonight revolved around getting into the paint, where the team outscored the Wildcats 38-20 on the night. Junior forward Roosevelt Jones and senior guard Alex Barlow were both excellent when driving to the rim, scrambling up a stiff Northwestern defense with a quick and aggressive first step. Jones helped out almost everywhere on the stat sheet tonight, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal.
Butler's Kameron Woods has a tendency to treat rebounds like Godzilla treats the San Francisco skyline, and he lived up to that reputation tonight with nine boards, including two on the offensive glass. The Bulldogs also received a boost from sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz, who added seven points and three rebounds while holding Northwestern's seven-foot center Alex Olah in check defensively.
The Wildcats were led by guard Bryan McIntosh, who scored 12 points and dished out five assists. Forward Vic Law was impressive from deep, hitting two big three's to help cut the Butler lead down to just two in the final minutes. However, the Bulldogs hung on thanks to a couple big hits from Dunham, and the rest is history.
Turnaround for Butler will be short this weekend, as the team will face Kennesaw State on Monday, Dec. 8, at home. That game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.