Trailing 55-45 with just over four minutes remaining, things were looking bleak for the Butler Bulldogs. I was sitting in the stands for this one as the fans throughout Marquette's arena began celebrating what looked, at the time, like a big victory for the Golden Eagles, but I couldn't fight the urge to remind those around me of the proven truth that, in basketball, there is always still time left on the clock. And over the course of those final 240 seconds, the script flipped in the most spectacular way imaginable.
The Bulldogs ended the second half on a 13-3 run, with seven of those points coming from sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz. Forcing overtime, Chrabascz and junior guard Kellen Dunham dropped a combined 12 of the team's 14 points in the extra period to win 72-68. It was a hugely entertaining come-from-behind victory, and with Robert O'Neill covering the defense and myself digging in on the offense, here's what went well and what went poorly:
What Went Well
- Literally anything Andrew Chrabascz did: On a day in which the Bulldogs shot just 37 percent from the field, Chrabascz put the team on his back Greg Jennings-style for a career high 30 points. He basically ignited the Bulldog rally on his own, shooting 11-of-17 from the field while dominating the Golden Eagles on the interior. To put that in perspective, he hit ten of his 14 attempts from two-point territory, which comes out to an astounding 71 percent on the day. He's now had three double-digit scoring performances in a row, bringing an exciting new gear to an offense that often runs through Dunham and senior forward Roosevelt Jones.
- Offensive rebounding: The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the Butler Bulldogs won the offensive rebounding margin AGAIN. Rob and I are going to put out a feature in the near future about how dominant the Bulldogs have been in this area this season, but for now, I'll just point out that Butler won the OR margin 19-to-10 again on Saturday.
- FREE THROW SHOOTING: No, it's not a typo, the Bulldogs shot a very impressive 17-of-18 from the charity stripe against the Golden Eagles. They're shooting just 66.9 percent from the line this season, which puts them in the company of schools like Northern Kentucky and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but this time, their free throws played a huge role in keeping them in, and finally icing, the game. Again, credit Chrabascz and Dunham, who went 13-of-14 combined at the stripe.
What Went Poorly
- Turnovers: There were a few stretches of pretty ugly turnovers for the Bulldogs, primarily from lead ballhandlers Roosevelt Jones and Alex Barlow, who had seven TOs combined. The team had a total of 13 giveaways on the day, but were able to battle through some tough possessions once they got things rolling in the second half.
- Three point shooting: As a team, the Bulldogs went 5-of-15 from deep against the Golden Eagles for a disappointing 33 percent. That's about average for them, as they're currently at just 34 percent from three on the year, which is a bit surprising considering the number of good three-point shooters on this team. Dunham is not only the best shooters on the roster, he's one of the best in the country, but he went just 1-of-6 on Saturday. The team was salvaged by Barlow, who led with three trey's, and Chrabascz pitched in with one of his own to add to his huge performance.
- Roosevelt Jones' efficiency: Jones' streak of seven straight double-digit scoring performances came to a crashing halt on Saturday as he finished with just two points on 1-of-12 shooting. It's just the second time this season that he's had under four points, so he's more than likely to have a bounce-back game against St. John's on Tuesday, but it's a bit discouraging that he's still struggling with efficiency issues after righting the ship over the last few weeks.
What Went Well
Buckling down when it mattered: You don't come back from a 55-45 deficit with four minutes to play using offense alone. Obviously, you need to have a strong defensive effort, as well. Following Chris Holtmann's technical foul (a turning point, really), the Bulldogs hunkered down and knew they couldn't afford to drop this game to the underwhelming Marquette Golden Eagles.
Defensive rebounding: The Bulldogs are just a really good all-around rebounding team. That's crystal clear by now. Kameron Woods had 18 rebounds in this game, 11 were defensive. Woods may not be very polished offensively, but as long as he continues to be an elite rebounder, he'll always have a spot on this, or, any, team. There are a ton of volume shooters in the sport of basketball. There are a lot of guys who can make flashy plays. There are a select few that can rebound at a high level.
Perimeter defense: Butler held Marquette to 6/21 from beyond the arc. In a close game like this, if one or two more of those threes fell the game would have swung in a drastically different direction. Of course, you can't give Butler all the credit for Marquette missing shots, but they certainly deserve some of it.
What Went Poorly
Marquette's scoring variety: Butler allowed four different Golden Eagles to get into double-digits. This isn't entirely terrible, because no one got over 20 points and the Bulldogs' struggles in this game were mostly offensive, but that's certainly not a habit you want to get in to. Down the line, you're going to start facing teams with multiple scoring threats and it will be imperative to be able to shut them down. The silver lining here, however, is that Duane Wilson and Matt Carlino both had 18 points for Marquette, but they shot a combined 11-32. 32 shots for 36 points? Not exactly efficient.