Butler got off to a slow start on Monday night, and in the second half, Detroit’s freshman phenom Antoine Davis lit up the scoreboard – nevertheless, the talent gap proved too difficult for the Titans to overcome, and Butler eventually prevailed 84-63.
Butler struggled early against Detroit’s zone defense, settling for many deep and contested threes. The Dawgs shot 3-14 from three in the first half but Detroit also struggled mightily and Butler was able to take a 40-22 lead into halftime. It seemed the Bulldogs were off to the races, but Davis had other ideas.
Davis got it cooking in the second half, scoring 13 consecutive Detroit points at one juncture. Behind Davis’ shooting, the Titans cut their deficit to just four points with 14:39 remaining. Butler followed this up with a 7-0 run and then they truly were off to the races.
Kamar Baldwin put up a big line, scoring 26 points and turning in eight rebounds and six assists. Joey Brunk was solid again, chipping in 13 points in just 20 minutes and Aaron Thompson contributed with a 3-3 shooting night and stellar defense.
Butler will host Ole Miss at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday at 8 p.m. ET (FS2)
Dribble Penetration could be a problem
Detroit played a zone defense which generally makes dribble penetration more difficult. That being said, dribble penetration seemed very difficult for the Dawgs. People looking at the box score might think Butler’s offense struggled because of its three-point shooting woes – but the fact is, many of their threes were pull-ups late in the shot clock or deep catch-and-shoots. The Bulldogs weren’t getting many good looks from drives and kick-outs. Baldwin, Thompson, and Jorgensen are all willing to drive, but can often be out of control or lose the ball.
Aaron Thompson makes winning plays
Thompson may never be the kind of player that shines in the box score, but when he’s at his best he makes all kinds of winning plays. In this one, Thompson drew a key offensive foul (a specialty of his) against Antoine Davis that slowed down the red-hot freshman. He made some nice passes, hit a three to keep the defense honest, and dove on the ground for a loose ball in the second half, securing it and calling a timeout to maintain possession.
Butler is susceptible to bad offense
Credit to Mike Davis, whose Titans played a tough zone for much of the game against Butler. Detroit hustled and scrapped and didn’t allow very many easy buckets for Butler. Faced with this impressive defense, Butler showed that it may not always have the answers on offense this year. The Bulldogs struggled shooting all game and had several ugly turnovers in the second half. Kamar Baldwin is a double-edged sword, often saving the Dawgs by making terrific individual plays, but sometimes dooming the Dawgs by trying to do too much.