The Butler Bulldogs and Seton Hall Pirates gave Big East and college basketball fans a treat on Tuesday, battling into overtime before the Bulldogs sealed the 79-75 victory even with two starters fouled out on the bench. The game featured top-notch performances from individuals on both rosters, including Seton Hall's Sterling Gibbs and Butler's Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham. It's now the second game in a row that Butler has been able to not only slow down a high-powered offense, but keep up the scoring pace with their own. Let's take a closer look at how they did it:
What Went Well
- Scoring Efficiency: Here's an interesting stat for you: Since the start of Big East play, the Bulldogs have shot 34.7 percent from the field in their two losses and a staggering 46.1 percent in their three wins. Calling that a huge difference would be an understatement, and after winning three of their last four games, Butler has climbed all the way up to 55th in the nation with an adjusted offense efficiency rating of 107.6 points per 100 possessions (according to kenpom.com). Against Seton Hall, the Bulldogs were paced by a nice shooting performance from Roosevelt Jones, who had a season high 23 points on 9-15 shooting from two-point range. It's becoming very clear that Jones is probably Butler's most important player (not "best player", that's still Kellen Dunham), because when he's hot, the team is hot, and when he's off, well, the team usually is too. Overall, the Bulldogs connected on 47.8 percent of their two-point attempts, helping establish a presence inside. Hey, speaking of which...
- Post Offense: Andrew Chrabscz was great again down low, shooting 4-9 on the day and doing a tremendous job of getting to the free throw line down the stretch. The sophomore forward ended up finishing with 12 points before fouling out near the end of the second half, but has really broken back out the last few games after hitting a cold streak at the beginning of conference play. Freshman Tyler Wideman has been terrific on both ends of the floor, and is a the perfect replacement for Chrabascz when he comes off the bench. He plays hard, battles on the boards and has probably been the team's most impressive freshman lately, since it seems like Kelan Martin is getting a case of the jitters every time he launches from deep.
- Offensive Rebounding: As is tradition. Here's the crazy thing from the Seton Hall game: On every Butler shot attempt in which there was an opportunity for a rebound (i.e. a missed shot), the Bulldogs grabbed an offensive board on 43.9 percent of them, according to kenpom.com. To put that into perspective, that means that Butler is getting a second chance on nearly half of their missed shot attempts, which is insane. A lot of this is due to the long-arm rebounding animal that is Kameron Woods, who grabbed 15 boards against the Pirates. When you're getting this many second chances and hitting at a pretty efficient clip, you're going to be tough to beat.
- Crunch Time Response: This was an actual thing that I tweeted just before the start of overtime: Butler in OT without Barlow and Chrabascz is just about the worst possible scenario here. But, stranger things have happened...
— Mike Murtaugh (@mikemurt123) January 14, 2015
AND THEY WON. Strange things did happen. Consider the events that had just transpired going into OT: the Bulldogs had just blown an eight-point lead with under four minutes left, Sterling Gibbs was stroking three-balls like he was freaking Steph Curry, Alex Barlow (the team's best perimeter defender) fouled out, Andrew Chrabascz (the team's best rim protector) fouled out, they were on the road in a loud Seton Hall arena and were going into the extra period with a freshman (Wideman) and the team's 9th man (Jackson Aldridge, who doesn't get nearly enough credit from fans) in the lineup. AND THEY WON. Jones and Dunham exploded for nine points in OT, Gibbs fouled out, the role players stepped up AND THEY WON. It's the most underrated storyline of the game, but Butler showed true resiliency down the stretch to knock off a ranked opponent.
What Went Poorly
After all that, I'm supposed to write about what they didn't do well? I guess there were a few things:
- Three-Point Shooting: As well as the Bulldogs shot from in close and the mid-range, they went a pretty poor 5-18 from three (27.8 percent). Barlow was the main culprit, seeing as he went a pretty uncharacteristic 2-9 behind the arc, and Dunham's 2-6 mark wasn't bad by any means, but it surely didn't help. Kelan Martin has shooting the ball so hard at the rim that it looks like he's mad at it, and even though we've seen him get hot from deep in practice, it hasn't been showing in games. He's a freshman, and with his big frame and athleticism, he'll figure it out. But for now, they need Martin to step it up a bit.
- Free Throw Shooting: This has been an issue all year long, and Butler shot a pretty gross 64.5 percent from the line on 31 attempts against Seton Hall. Jones and Dunham are both great at drawing fouls and coaxing their defenders into mistakes, but only Dunham and Barlow are truly "good" free throw shooters. As a team, the Bulldogs are shooting just 66.7 percent from the line, so that's a very necessary fix moving forward.
What Went Well
Butler, as they so often seem to do in games they win, won the rebounding battle by a margin of 45-37. That included 27 defensive rebounds for the Bulldogs, who did a good job keeping everyone (except Angel Delgado) off the offensive glass. The Pirates DID have 14 offensive rebounds, but six of those were Delgado's. Butler could have done better, but they could have done much worse as well.
The Bulldogs were able to apply pressure and hold Pirates starter Brandon Mobley to 1-15 shooting. Obviously, in a case like that, it's just bad luck for Mobley. But the Bulldogs matched up very well against him and that contributed to it. They did not, however, matchup quite as well against other Seton Hall players as you'll see in the next section.
What Went Poorly
Sterling Gibbs and Khadeen Carrington: Butler allowed Seton Hall's two guards to combine for 50 of the team's 75 points (30 for Gibbs and 20 for Carrington). They still got the win, and Gibbs is one of the best scorers in the conference, but Butler simply cannot afford to live on the edge like that, defensively. They generally don't, however, as they're currently 44th in the NCAA at points per game allowed at 60.2
Butler was only able to swipe three steals from the Pirates, just one game after Alex Barlow had seven on his own. Obviously he's not going to get seven every game, but you'd really like the team to be closer to the 7.2 a game mark where they sit at 95th in the NCAA this year.