The Butler Bulldogs were fully committed to the “gritty, not pretty” mantra of LaVall Jordan against Ole Miss on Friday night. The game was sloppy, physical, and generally ugly from start to finish. The Bulldogs never opened up a wide margin, but were able to control almost the entire game, and ultimately prevailed 83-76.
One aspect of Friday’s game was pretty – Paul Jorgensen’s shooting. Ole Miss mucked up the game with an aggressive trapping zone, and Butler had a hard time beating it. Jorgensen saved the Bulldogs from getting into an early hole by lighting it up in the first half, pouring in 18 points on 8-12 shooting. He finished with a career-high 27 points.
Jorgensen’s contributions were just enough to keep the Bulldogs one step ahead of Mississippi’s Terence Davis. Davis scored 30 points and seemed to hit a big bucket every time the Rebels’ backs were against the wall. In the second half, Jorgensen went quiet, but Kamar Baldwin came to life. Baldwin struggled from the field all night, but was able to get to the free throw line often, draining 10 free throws in as many tries in the second half.
Ole Miss actually regained the lead briefly in the second half, extending it to as many as five points with 6:19 remaining. A pair of Baldwin free throws were answered by an Ole Miss bucket, but then Aaron Thompson drew a foul while scoring on an incredible finish. His free throw cut the lead to two. Then Kamar Baldwin canned a short jumper, and after Thompson made an excellent pass to Fowler for a lay-up, the Bulldogs regained a lead they would never relinquish.
Joey Brunk was excellent for the third straight game, scoring 15 on perfect shooting, and the Bulldogs won the turnover battle 10-15. Butler handed Ole Miss its first loss and improved to 3-0 on the year.
Butler begins the Battle 4 Atlantis against Dayton on Wednesday @ 7 p.m. ET.
Joey Brunk continues to give Butler hope
Every game we have mentioned Joey Brunk’s contributions. He has been fantastic for the Dawgs, battling on the boards and scoring efficiently. Post play was one of Butler’s biggest concerns coming into the season, and with every stellar Brunk performance, the interior looks like less of an issue.
Kamar’s struggles are cause for concern
Kamar Baldwin struggled from the field and with his decision-making. He shot just 5-17 and turned the ball over four times in the first half. In the second half, Baldwin was slightly more wise, controlling the pace, getting to the foul line, and not turning the ball over. Nevertheless, Baldwin’s struggles are ominous for Butler, since the Bulldogs will rely heavily on him to play consistently this season.
Jorgensen’s scoring spree saves Butler
In our season preview for Butler, we highlighted the importance of Butler’s secondary scorers stepping up, especially when Baldwin struggles. Jorgensen stepped up in a big way tonight, absolutely lighting up the scoreboard and becoming, in fact, the top scorer for the Dawgs. This is a great sign for Butler. They were able to come out on top despite Baldwin not having his best performance. Jorgensen and McDermott must continue to lift Butler when Baldwin fails to do so.