For the first time since the 2012 Maui Invitational, the Butler Bulldogs are headed to the final in a preseason tournament.
The Bulldogs defeated the Temple Owls, 74-69, in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. They'll face the winner of Friday night's Utah/Miami contest Sunday night in the final.
Here are three things we learned in the Bulldogs' victory.
Butler's offense in the first two games of the season looked like a symphony or a Picasso painting.
Friday afternoon, it looked more like a Jackson Pollock painting. While it was still effective and pleasant to watch, it was certainly more of an acquired taste than the first two games.
Butler scored 144 points against The Citadel, 93 points against Missouri State, and only 74 points against Temple.
The Bulldogs also only shot 36 percent from the field, and looked out of sorts for the first ten minutes of the game.
Kellen Dunham went 5-20 from the field with 16 points, but the Bulldogs still managed to get the job done.
A big reason? Tyler Lewis took over down the stretch. The transfer from NC State continues to look comfortable in a Butler uniform as he had 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half, including a pair of three pointers on back to back possessions to put Butler up by eight points in the second half.
While Lewis didn't record a steal or assist, his usual contributions, in Friday's contest, he was paramount in the Bulldogs' victory.
Butler was also aided by 22 second chance points thanks to 18 offensive rebounds. Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Chrabascz combined for nine offensive boards, and made the most of their second chances. That led to both of them posting double-doubles.
Temple controlled the pace
In addition to Temple being better than the two other teams Butler has faced this season, part of the reason the Bulldogs couldn't score at will against the Owls was that Temple slowed the pace of the game way down.
Fran Dunphy, Temple's head coach, is notorious for having his teams slow the game down, execute sets, and run plays.
While it didn't work for Temple in this instance, teams across the country likely have taken notes and will look to employ a similar strategy to attempt to slow Butler down going forward.
Quenton DeCosey led Temple in scoring with 21 points, and Jaylen Bond had 13 points along with 13 rebounds.
As mentioned above, Butler will either face Utah or Miami in the final Sunday night.
Utah is ranked 16th in the country, and are 3-0 with wins over Southern Utah, San Diego State, and Texas Tech. They have projected NBA lottery pick Jakob Poeltl manning the paint for them, in addition to a couple other nice pieces. For more on the make-up of Utah's roster, visit our friends at Block U.
Miami is also 3-0 on the year, with wins over UT-Rio Grande, UL-Lafayette, and Mississippi State. Senior guard Sheldon McClellan is averaging 17.3 PPG for the Hurricanes so far. For more on Miami, visit our friends at State of the U.