Missouri’s Kobe Brown started Monday night’s game against Butler with a three-pointer ten seconds in; this was the last real bright spot of the night for the Tigers as Butler quickly took the lead with a Kamar Baldwin layup and a Bryce Golden triple. This spurred a 15-0 run for the Bulldogs, who would never relinquish that early lead, ultimately prevailing 63-52 and advancing to the Hall of Fame Classic championship.
Butler came out red hot, hitting their first six shots. On the other end, they played tenacious defense, forcing five turnovers in the first five minutes. All of this amounted to a 15-3 lead for the Bulldogs. Missouri made some adjustments and played better from that point on, but it was already too late. The way the Bulldogs are defending this year, a 12-point deficit is a mountain to climb.
The Tigers never got closer than eight points and what was essentially a home crowd in Kansas City was pretty much a non-factor. Dru Smith was the only Tiger to really get it going, scoring 19 points. He was the leading scorer in the game as Butler got its points by committee. Baldwin and Golden led the Dawgs with 13 each, Sean McDermott had ten, and Bryce Nze and Christian David chipped in eight apiece.
Aaron Thompson, who is putting together a terrific season for Butler early on, was a major key once again. Thompson played lockdown defense again, and led the team with seven assists.
This was a big win for Butler. LaVall Jordan’s squad improves to 6-0 and picks up its second win against a high major opponent. The Bulldogs also passed their first test away from Hinkle by winning at a neutral site.
Butler and Missouri seemed to have similar talent, but Butler simple executed better. The Bulldogs looked like a team that has learned many lessons over the last few years, some the hard way. Finally, the disappointments are paying off.
Every time Missouri threatened to make a run, the Bulldogs came up with a big play. At one juncture, Thompson silenced the crowd by drawing a charge. Later, after Missouri got the crowd involved by throwing down a dunk, Sean McDermott quickly stopped the run with a three-pointer.
Butler is well-coached, experienced, and unafraid. Very suddenly, they look like a classic Butler team. They may be poised to surprise.
Butler faces the winner of Stanford and Oklahoma on Tuesday, November 26, at 9:30 p.m. ET.