Indiana’s possession broke down on the final possession and with just two seconds left, the ball was still 30 feet away from the basket. Devonte Green flipped it over to Rob Phinisee, who sent up a desperation heave from deep behind the 3-point line—and knocked it down. Replay showed clearly that he got it off in time, and the Hoosiers prevailed over Butler in another Crossroads Classic thriller.
Butler got off to a hot start and managed to keep a slim cushion over Indiana throughout the first half despite Juwan Morgan scoring in bunches. Sean McDermott’s three-point shooting and strong defense led Butler to a four-point halftime lead.
In the second half, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 10 with 17:22 left to play. Nobody scored again for over three minutes until Juwan Morgan made a three-pointer. From that point on, slowly but surely, Indiana began chipping away. Butler struggled to score for most of the second half and ultimately, Morgan and the Hoosiers caught them.
Despite Morgan’s career-high 34 points, it seemed as though Butler would still escape to overtime, but Phinisee’s heroics dashed those hopes. LaVall Jordan will surely be disappointed that the Bulldogs let a quality win opportunity slip away in Indianapolis.
Butler next plays Presbyterian on Tuesday, December 18 @ 8:30 p.m. ET.
One of the biggest questions for Butler this season was whether or not Fowler and Brunk would be able to defend tough post players. The answer on Saturday was a resounding, “No.” Brunk and Fowler couldn’t keep up with Morgan on the perimeter and couldn’t contain him in the post. There isn’t anybody on the roster that seems equipped to help—this could be a struggle for Coach Jordan all year.
The Baldwin Dilemma
Kamar Baldwin presents a dilemma for Butler. He’s the most talented scorer on the roster and has an ability to create offense like none of his teammates do. That being said, Baldwin has often been out-of-control, inefficient, and turnover-prone this year. Against Indiana, he had four turnovers and shot poorly—but he also scored two incredible baskets in the last two minutes to keep the Bulldogs alive. Baldwin must find a way to play more consistently and more efficiently if Butler is to be successful going forward.
Butler’s interior defense is a problem, but the Bulldogs are defending well on the perimeter. The talented Romeo Langford came into the game averaging over 18 points per game, but scored just 13 with five turnovers. Butler managed to stifle everybody for Indiana except Morgan. The Bulldogs’ success may be highly dependent on match-ups this year. Star guards shouldn’t present too much difficulty for them, but offensive-minded big men may give them fits.