For the second time this season, the Butler Bulldogs took down the St. John's Red Storm, this time on the Bulldogs' home turf. Led by a huge performance from junior guard Kellen Dunham, who finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, the Bulldogs closed the game on a 20-5 run after St. John's brought the game within eight points with seven minutes remaining. Our staff break this one down for both squads in more detail later this week, but for now, here's three takeaways from tonight's game:
1. Butler finds offensive balance
Just one game after sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz had to drop 30 points to keep the Bulldogs alive against Marquette, Butler achieved terrific balance with four players scoring in double-digits and a fifth coming up just short. Dunham led the team with 21, but Alex Barlow (15 points, perfect 5-of-5 from the field), Chrabascz (14 points, seven rebounds) and Roosevelt Jones (13 points, four assists) weren't very far behind. Senior forward Kameron Woods came inches short of a double-double, dropping nine points and grabbing a dominant 12 rebounds. The Bulldogs were getting scoring from all over the floor tonight, thoroughly dominating the Red Storm in the second half.
2. Chris Obekpa gets tossed
A group of NBA scouts were on hand tonight in Indianapolis, most likely to check out Obekpa, who has climbed up to No. 66 in DraftExpress' Top 100 rankings. However, he never really got the chance to show off his craft, getting ejected in the first half after throwing an elbow at Butler freshman Tyler Wideman. The junior forward figured to play a huge role in tonight's game since he's turned himself into one of the most athletically inclined shot blockers in the country, and his loss definitely hurt St. John's inside. The Red Storm ended up getting two huge performances out of Sir'Dominic Pointer (19 points, six rebounds) and Rysheed Jordan (17 points, four rebounds, four assists), but their lack of depth, especially after losing Obekpa, killed them down the stretch.
3. A tale of two streaks
It's fascinating how different the stakes were coming into tonight's game than they were back on Jan. 3 when these two teams played last. Butler won that game 73-69, snapping a disappointing stretch that included three losses in five games and knocking off a St. John's squad that had climbed to No. 15 in the country with an 11-2 record. Since the start of conference play, the Red Storm have lost seven of their last ten and sit near the bottom of the Big East with a 3-6 conference record. On the flipside, the Bulldogs have won four straight and seven of their last nine, rising up to No. 22 in the latest AP poll. A lot has changed in the last five weeks, but St. John's can't be happy with their recent streak of performances.