Seton Hall has shown a penchant for comebacks this year and Butler has let even the largest of late leads dwindle at times. Nevertheless, when a Joey Brunk lay-up gave Butler a 17-point lead with 6:48 remaining, it was hard to imagine that anybody would be biting their nails in the last minute. As it happened, Myles Powell put up a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game for Seton Hall had it gone in. It clanged off the iron, and Butler won 70-68, avoiding an embarrassing defeat.
The Bulldogs controlled the game almost from the opening tip. Seton Hall seemed tired and lackadaisical at times, struggling to shoot and slow to rotate on defense. Butler didn’t play lights out, but the defense was strong and good three-point shooting was a key.
Paul Jorgensen, who has been AWOL for the Bulldogs the last few weeks came alive in a big way in this one. He scored 13 in the first half and finished with 18 to lead the Dawgs. Joey Brunk and Nate Fowler also played well, combining for 23 points. It was a night for unusual suspects as Kamar Baldwin, Jordan Tucker, and Sean McDermott were all kept quiet on the offensive end.
For Seton Hall, it was the opposite. The starters played well; in fact, four of the five Pirate starters had positive plus-minus impact in this one. The bench, however, was a different story. Seton Hall got just nine points from its bench, and only one bench player, Romaro Gill, was positive in plus-minus.
For a game that was steadily controlled by one team throughout, the last few minutes were a circus. Butler struggled to take care of the ball and make free throws, and Seton Hall charged back, led by Powell, who had 11 points in the last four minutes. The game was tied when Paul Jorgensen put up a floater on the right side for Butler. His shot was swatted away but the officials ruled it goaltending, a questionable call to say the least.
On the other end, Powell was defended by Aaron Thompson. Thompson contested well, but Powell was still able to get a decent look for the win. The shot was on line, but just a little bit too strong. It came off the iron and Kamar Baldwin secured the rebound and the win for Butler.
Seton Hall next plays Creighton on Saturday, February 9 @ 8:00 p.m. ET.
Butler next plays Georgetown on Saturday, February 9 @ 12:00 p.m. ET.
In a rare turn of events, the takeaway for both teams here is the same. To compete in the BIG EAST, you have to play 40 minutes of solid basketball. Both of these teams have struggled with this throughout this season, and, in truth, over the last few seasons. Butler played a lot more solid minutes in this game, but Seton Hall’s superior athleticism and star scorer Powell allowed them to make up ground quickly. Had either team stuck with its principles for just a few more minutes, that team would have earned a comfortable win. Both teams are near the NCAA Tournament bubble according to Joe Lunardi, so its imperative that they learn to be more consistent going forward.