Knowing Aaron Thompson would be out against Indiana on Saturday, Butler Bulldogs faithful likely just hoped for a competitive game and some signs of growth from the Dawgs. They got all that, but the game was so competitive that the eight-point loss ended up stinging. The Bulldogs were in position to stun the Hoosiers but a dismal second-half stretch doomed them.
Once again, Butler’s freshmen were a bright spot. Myles Tate had the best game of his young career and JaKobe Coles looked like Butler’s best player at times. These two youngsters propelled the Bulldogs to a 37-32 halftime lead.
Unfortunately, as the freshmen waned a little in the second half, the Dawgs’ more experienced players did not pick up the slack. Butler’s Bryces, Golden and Nze, both had miserable performances, combining to shoot 6-24 from the field. Nze also turned the ball over four times, matching his total against Villanova. Jair Bolden was the lone upperclassman to contribute positively for Butler, sinking six three-pointers on the way to 20 points.
Indiana took its first lead of the second half with 15:56 remaining and the lead only expanded from there; the Hoosiers flirted with a blowout but Butler was able to keep it respectable with some late buckets. Trayce Jackson-Davis’s post game and Armaan Franklin’s outside shooting carried the Hoosiers, the two combining for 41 points.
The Bulldogs have yet to play at full strength this season, and, should be proud of the way they’ve competed in their last two against tough opponents, but they will likely see this one as a missed opportunity.
Butler’s Very Bad Bigs
The Bulldogs’ frontcourt was painfully bad in this one, as it was against Villanova. The experienced Nze and Golden were expected to be a strength for Butler this year, but instead they’ve been the weak links. Perhaps Golden can get a pass for this one since he was returning from time off and may have been a little rusty and poorly conditioned; Nze, however, can’t make the same excuse and LaVall Jordan is going to have to face some difficult decisions if his poor play continues. JaKobe Coles looked far superior against the Hoosiers and may find himself in the starting lineup before long. One way or another, the Bulldogs’ play inside must improve if they are to win many games this year.
Butler hosts Southern Illinois on Monday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET.