The Butler Bulldogs’ season is over. After a successful year that included a sweep of the regular season champion Villanova Wildcats and Elite Eight-bound Xavier Musketeers, the ‘Dawgs saw their Phoenix dreams go up in smoke as the North Carolina Tar Heels put on a clinic. Inside the FedEx Forum in Memphis, UNC was truly the ‘total package,’ using a red-hot 1st half of play to help lead them to a 92-80 victory.
Butler never quite caught fire as they did against the Winthrop Eagles or Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Friday night, as UNC stifled and frustrated them on that end of the floor. There was nothing the Bulldogs could do against a UNC team that shot 52.9 percent from the floor in the first half and 47.1 percent from the 3-point line, and with significant contributions from their stars being hard to come by, the end result was to be expected.
Star forward Justin Jackson and guard Joel Berry combined for 50 of UCN’s 92 points on Friday night, shooting a combined 17-for-31 from the field. Berry, playing through an ankle injury, certainly didn’t look 100 percent from a health standpoint but it didn’t seem to matter at any point. He was stupendous, as was Jackson, as the duo can certainly be credited with leading the Tar Heels to their win on Friday night.
Playing in his final college game, Andrew Chrabascz ended on a high note, scoring 21 on 14 shots, grabbing seven boards and dishing out four assists. Tyler Lewis, Avery Woodson and Kethan Savage played well as well, scoring a combined 24 points (eight each, actually) and combined for four rebounds and six assists.
Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin eventually caught heat and scored 16 and 14 points respectively. It was simply too much too soon for the ‘Dawgs defense to handle, and cold spells from the floor and a poor performance from 3-point land wound up being their undoing.
Butler’s efforts on the whole this year shouldn’t be forgotten. This was a team pegged for sixth in the conference and with Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones gone in particular, some questioned how far BU would go. A Sweet 16 appearance with a second-place finish in the Big East certainly qualifies as a success, and with a quality recruiting class coming in next year, the Bulldogs will be a force to be reckoned with again in the Big East and around the country.
Still, Friday’s result may leave some soured, but ultimately there’s no shame in losing to the Tar Heels, who looked every bit of the favorite for the National Title that they are right now.