Some kind of contest occurred between the Butler Bulldogs and the Saint Louis Billikens on Saturday night. It vaguely resembled a basketball game, but also looked a bit like a hockey match and had elements of wrestling too. In a game characterized by players slipping, loose balls bouncing around everywhere, and one of the teams throwing up a lot of ugly shots, Saint Louis prevailed 64-52.
Saint Louis likes to muck up the game by playing tough defense and pressing their advantage inside. They were able to do both of those things well against the Bulldogs. Kamar Baldwin had no answers for the suffocating defense of Javon Bess and Fred Thatch Jr. and Sean McDermott’s impact was limited by foul trouble.
The Bulldogs actually jumped out to a quick lead behind the hot shooting of McDermott, but after scoring 21 points in the first eleven minutes, Butler scored just three more points in the half. The offense never picked back up. Saint Louis didn’t score enough to put the game completely away, and Butler was within seven points with just under three minutes remaining, but Kamar Baldwin missed a three-pointer, Saint Louis got fouled and made both free throws and Butler never came closer than nine.
Kamar Baldwin finished 3-17 on the night with no assists and five turnovers and the Bulldogs as a team shot 28.1%. They missed 20 threes on the night. Javon Bess, who really got it going in the second half, led the Billikens with 18 points.
Butler next plays Brown on Wednesday, December 5 at 7 p.m. ET.
Baldwin — yikes
Kamar Baldwin had an absolutely disastrous game. The defense from Saint Louis was terrific, but there is no excuse for Baldwin’s line. It was reminiscent of some of Kelan Martin’s struggles his junior year. As a junior, Martin had some awful performances as defenses focused their efforts on him. Little by little he learned when to attack, when to pass, and how to score efficiently against solid defenses. Butler needs Baldwin to learn these lessons quick, because 19 possessions were lost to missed shots or turnovers by Baldwin on Saturday.
Defense still solid
Butler’s defense was looking better and better with each game coming into this one. The bright spot in this ugly game for the Bulldogs is that the defense was strong again. Saint Louis was unable to run away with it despite shooting 30 free throws and making two separate long-range prayers to just beat the shot clock. The Bulldogs even won the turnover battle, forcing 19 turnovers to their own 14.
Jordan Tucker can’t come soon enough
The time is fast approaching that transfer Jordan Tucker will be able to suit up for the Bulldogs, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Tucker was a highly-heralded recruit who Butler will be counting on to shoulder some of the scoring load. While Jorgensen and McDermott are solid shooters, Baldwin is alone in creating scoring opportunities for Butler off the dribble. It’s impossible to know if Tucker will be able to help in this department, but LaVall Jordan would surely love to find out as soon as possible.