A season of frustration has raised all sorts of questions for the Butler Bulldogs. What if Roosevelt Jones had never gone down with a wrist injury over the summer? What if Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall had turned into the dynamic duo scoring threat that they showed flashes of in Orlando? What if close overtime losses to Villanova, DePaul, and Georgetown over a two week stretch had gone the other way? And the greatest of all... what if Brad Stevens never left?
Yet despite 14 conference losses their first year in the Big East, Butler took advantage of a chance to end things on a high note. A full week off after last Wednesday's loss to Villanova gave Butler time to regroup and get back to basics. The result was a 79-46 win over the DePaul Blue Demons.
Alex Barlow was the star for Butler, scoring a career-high 19 points on 7-9 shooting. A strong defender with limited ability to create scoring opportunities, Barlow bounced back from three tough shooting nights to have the best game of his life. Four three pointers raised his downtown shooting rate to nearly 40 percent, by far the best on the team. He added five steals, which also matched a career-high.
Backcourt partner Kellen Dunham has gone in the opposite direction with his shooting. Dunham's 34.1% three-point percentage is now lower than last season after starting out the year on a tear. Once looking like a bona fide All-Big East player, Dunham has tumbled into obscurity. He's had just two games with an offensive rating over 100 since January 21st and Thursday's performance marked his second-lowest scoring output of the season on twelve shots. He did lead the team with nine rebounds, but it was another frustrating display on offense for Butler's scoring leader.
Dunham's performance was just about the only frustrating thing for Butler in this one. Khyle Marshall scored 18 and added four rebounds. Elijah Brown also had a cold shooting night but finished with seven points and five boards off the bench.
In the frontcourt, Kameron Woods filled up the stat sheet with four points (on a perfect 1-1 from the floor and 2-2 from the line), six rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Andrew Chrabascz had eight points in just 18 minutes. Eric Fromm added three and three. Freshman Nolan Berry also impressed in garbage time with six points and five rebounds.
The convincing win pulled Butler back even with DePaul for last place in the Big East. It has been a long frustrating season, but an easy win against a fellow cellar dweller is certainly better than the alternative. The Bulldogs are favored by KenPom for Saturday's home finale against Seton Hall and look to end the year on its first winning streak in Big East play.