After blowing out Valparaiso, the DePaul Blue Demons came into a home contest against Butler feeling confident that their first BIG EAST win might be on the horizon. However, the Bulldogs came out playing tough defense and stroking the three-ball and put DePaul away early, eventually winning by a score of 67-53.
The Bulldogs defense has steadily improved over the course of the year and lately has been approaching elite status. DePaul couldn’t get anything going in the first half on Tuesday, scoring just 12 points over the game’s first 18:44. Meanwhile, Butler had no problem finding open shots early, especially at the three-point line; Jair Bolden led the way, draining four triples in the first half. Butler led 35-17 at the break.
DePaul found more success in the second half as the bench got hot. Kobe Elvis had a season-high 12 points, but Nick Ongenda was a perfect 3-3 from the field, but the starters combined to shoot just 9/36, and Butler had an answer every time the Blue Demons threatened to get back in the game.
Bolden finished with 21 points to lead all scorers, but Butler got contributions from everywhere with Myles Tate, Chuck Harris, and Bryce Golden scoring ten apiece. Bryce Nze pulled down 14 rebounds, a new high for his Butler career.
There is new life in the Butler program as the Dawgs have moved from the cellar to the middle of the pack after back-to-back wins. Meanwhile, DePaul’s miserable season continues as the Blue Demons continue their hunt for a BIG EAST win.
Butler: Why Wait?
With the key departures Butler experienced after last year, this was always going to be a rebuilding season – more so with the COVID shutdown the Dawgs endured early in the season and the injuries that continue to plague them. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs have shown steady improvement over the year which is a testament to their grit and the ability of LaVall Jordan. And now they are starting to see results. After pulling off a stunner against Creighton, Butler won a commanding victory over DePaul, its first such victory of the season and its first road victory. Barring a miracle, Butler won’t be NCAA Tournament bound, but they don’t have to wait until next year to start playing well and winning some big games.
DePaul: No Silver Linings
This was the kind of loss where it’s difficult to find any silver linings. The Blue Demons played much better in the second half, but even so, they never threatened to make a game of it. Butler has been one of the weaker teams in the league and DePaul was, in fact, favored in this game, but the Bulldogs looked far superior. Coach Leitao’s group deserves some sympathy because of the difficulty COVID shutdowns have imposed on its schedule, but it’s hard to see where a turnaround might come from for the program, either this season or in the future.
Butler hosts Seton Hall on Friday, January 22 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
DePaul plays Marquette on Saturday, January 23 at 6:00 p.m. ET.