Either the scouting report for Northern Illinois was missing a very important detail, or the Huskies just didn’t execute. Whatever the reason, NIU allowed Sean McDermott and Paul Jorgensen to find themselves open on the perimeter over and over again on Saturday, and the two sharpshooters propelled Butler to a 95-68 victory.
McDermott, who has really become a three-point assassin for the Bulldogs, sunk his first trey just 2:11 into the game. A minute and a half later, Jorgensen made his first triple. 28 seconds later, McDermott buried another from long range. Butler led 14-4 at that point and a media timeout gave NIU a breather, but it would only get worse after play resumed.
Butler expanded its lead to as many as 28 in the first half, and went to the locker room up 51-28. McDermott and Jorgensen combined for nine threes in the first 20 minutes and Aaron Thompson had seven assists.
The Bulldogs slowed down slightly in the second half but the lead was never in danger. McDermott and Jorgensen continued to score and Joey Brunk came alive in the post to subdue any NIU threats. Huskies’ star Eugene German had a strong performance, scoring 20 points, but the early punch from Butler was too much to overcome.
LaVall Jordan has to be ecstatic with this offensive performance as the Bulldogs have struggled to score in recent weeks. Their next contest is Saturday against in-state rival Indiana, and they will need all the buckets they can get to outpace Romeo Langford and the Hoosiers.
Butler next plays Indiana in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday, December 15 @ 3:45 p.m. ET.
The Bulldogs looked like a completely different team offensively. It helps when you make shots, but Butler was getting quality looks from the opening tip which is the opposite of how recent games have gone. Aaron Thompson had nine assists, but perhaps more important were the seven assists that Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk combined for. Butler created shots from the inside out and everybody was looking to make the extra pass. It’s hard to say if NIU was unprepared or if LaVall Jordan implemented some new strategy for the Bulldogs. Time will tell, but Butler should be optimistic after this performance.
Sean McDermott is officially an assassin
McDermott’s shooting has gotten better and better as his career has gone on but after this performance, it’s official — he is a three-point assassin. McDermott’s recent play is reminiscent of Butler star Kellen Dunham. When McDermott has had even a slight window to get a shot off he has knocked it down. He is tall and long which gives him an advantage and he is shooting fearlessly. When he stays out of foul trouble, he will be a terror for opposing teams.
Kamar Baldwin has been expected to be the star of this Butler team but on Saturday he showed that he doesn’t have to be. Baldwin has forced shots and turned the ball over at times this year, trying desperately to create offense for his team. On Saturday, with McDermott and Jorgensen carrying the scoring load, Baldwin contributed an all-around performance like only he can do; he had 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and played solid defense. Baldwin is a huge asset to the Bulldogs and if they can run a more effective team offense to take some of the pressure off of him, he will have a massive impact on the game.