Before Butler’s season opener against IUPUI on Wednesday night, the team announced that it would be without Christian David, Henry Baddley, Derrik Smits, Jordan Tucker, and Markeese Hastings due to a combination of injuries, illness, and suspension. Two minutes into the game, Kamar Baldwin was yanked with an apparent injury. A few minutes later, Campbell Donovan went down with a knee injury. The Bulldogs had just six healthy players for almost 3⁄4 of the game but that was more than enough to pummel the visiting Jaguars.
The steady Sean McDermott and the surprise starter Bryce Golden led the charge. McDermott was the picture of efficiency, scoring 26 points and missing just one shot. Golden was a stat sheet stuffer, scoring 17 and pulling down eight rebounds; he even managed to collect four assists on the evening.
It’s not every game that you can spend time contemplating every single player’s impact, but for this one, we may as well. Aaron Thompson had nine assists. Bryce Nze had 11 points and 11 boards. Khalif Battle got the crowd fired up with a couple of powerful dunks and John-Michael Mulloy grabbed four rebounds in just a few minutes.
The Bulldogs also had an impressive defensive outing considering they were likely gassed by the end. IUPUI was forced to shoot many difficult threes, going 3-21 from behind the arc. The Jaguars also turned the ball over 14 times and had just seven assists.
The Bulldogs improve to 1-0 and will be nursing their wounds trying to get healthy for New Orleans on Saturday.
Don’t sleep on Bryce Golden
Perhaps this writer is the only one that overlooked Bryce Golden, but you won’t find much mention of him in our Butler Season Preview. While Smits and Nze are still expected to get most of the reps, Golden more than held his own against IUPUI. He is strong but has nice agility and feel for the game. He contributed in every facet of the game and made a great pitch for more minutes throughout the season. Perhaps Golden will be a more impactful player than originally though.
Business as usual for Sean McDermott
McDermott is lights out in a way that is reminiscent of former Butler star Kellen Dunham. There must be something in the water over at Pendleton Heights High School in Indiana where both McDermott and Dunham played, because very few collegiate players can knock down jumpers like the two former Arabians. McDermott was 4-5 from three and 10-11 from the field; he also attacked the rim more today than he has in the past, but it’s hard to say if that will carry over into games against tougher opponents.
Butler faces New Orleans on Saturday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. ET.