After a bad double-digit loss at home to Xavier, most Butler fans expected an epic collapse against Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays. Instead the Bulldogs hung tight, fought back after allowing a seven-point second-half deficit, and held a lead inside a minute to play in Hinkle Fieldhouse. A McDermott three with 50 seconds remaining gave the Bluejays a 64-63 lead they wouldn't relinquish and the home team moves to 2-11 in the Big East.
As for Creighton, a close call following the loss to St. John's is a bit worrying, but the sqaud was back to its usual offensive efficiency. They gave up a lot of second chances to keep Butler in the game late but survive to challenge Villanova for the league's top billing on Sunday.
Kellen Dunham led the way with 16 points for Butler. 6 for 13 marks his best shooting performance since the Purdue game on December 14th. Its been a long and difficult stretch for the team's best shooter, but he was able to do enough to keep Butler scoring in a high-efficiency, low-possession affair.
Alex Barlow had another nice night shooting the ball, as well. 13 points marks his second double-digit scoring performance in a row, the first such stretch of his career. He isn't quick enough to get to the basket against Big East defenders, but has proven to be a solid long-range option when left open.
Andrew Chrabascz also got into double figures. 10 points, 3 rebounds for the freshman. His defensive rebounding percentage is now the worst on the team, below smaller guys like Barlow and Dunham. That's a worrying sign, but Kameron Woods was able to pick up the slack after a stretch of below-average performances. 12 rebounds for Woods on an otherwise difficult night (1-8 from the floor). Woods can be really effective when all he has to do is defend and rebound, but he's been asked to create offense a lot this year and it hasn't worked.
Khyle Marshall contributed a pretty ho-hum eight and three, all three being offensive rebounds. Marshall, like Chrabascz, has a weirdly high percentage of offensive rebounds compared to his defensive effort. The two guys are tops in creating second chances, but the worst defensive rebounders in the starting lineup (Marshall- 9.9 OR%, 10.3 DR%). Woods has used his high effort on the defensive end to lead the Big East in defensive rebounding percentage (26.3%), but the poor showing by Butler's two other bigs in that stat line makes you wonder if they just need practice boxing guys out.
Elijah Brown wasn't perfect, but he got eight points with a career-high for minutes. The pictures of him shooting with his dad after everyone had left the building have to ease any concerns about the freshman's mental make-up. Some guys just have a hard time adjusting their game to a higher level. Brown isn't going to be effective as the reckless shooter he was in high school but he certainly seems to be putting in the effort to improve.
Next up for Butler is a really tough away game at St. John's. The Red Storm have won seven of eight and don't look to be cooling off any time soon.