The Butler Bulldogs gave Seton Hall a scare, battling back from a deficit to create some drama in the final minutes, but the Pirates’ experience propelled them to a 68-60 victory. The Hall has won three in a row and became the first BIG EAST team to five conference wins.
Most expected Kevin Willard’s squad to dominate the game, but the Bulldogs came out firing early, taking a 20-13 lead behind the hot shooting of Myles Tate. The Pirates came alive and finished the half on a 21-5 run, taking a nine-point lead into the half.
It was more of the same for the first part of the second half, but with about eleven minutes left, the Butler freshmen came alive. Trailing by ten, the Bulldogs got consecutive three-pointers from Tate, Chuck Harris, and Myles Wilmoth to cut the deficit to one. Shavar Reynolds answered with a big three of his own, followed by a pair of free throws.
Butler scrapped its way back into it again with another Harris three and a Bryce Golden jumper. But Seton Hall’s experience began to show from that point on with different guys doing it on each possession. Jared Rhodan, Tyrese Samuel, Myles Cale, Reynolds, Bryce Aiken, and Sandro Mamukelashvili all scored in the final five minutes and Butler made some key mistakes in the form of a turnover and a missed free throw. When it was all said and done, the Pirates were able to survive the scare beat Butler for the third time in a row, dating back to last season.
Mamukelashvili led the way with 24 points, though he didn’t have his best game, turning the ball over five times. Rhoden added 19 for the Pirates. Butler’s high-scorer was Tate, who made five three-pointers and finished with 22. Mamukelashvili and Ike Obiagu ensured that the woeful seasons of Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden continued, holding them to 6/16 shooting and coaxing five turnovers from the Butler big men.
Seton Hall: Matchup Nightmare
The Pirates showed exactly why they’ve had so much success early in BIG EAST play in the final few minutes of this one against Butler. The Pirates have so much size, talent, and experience that they are a matchup nightmare for just about any team. Mamukelashvili is obviously their best player, and there may not be anybody in the country who can match up well with him – but even if he’s having an off night, Seton Hall has so many other options. Even though this one got tight at the end, Mamu didn’t have to force anything and the Pirates just played their game, working the ball around and finding the best matchup.
Butler: Budding Stars
Much has been said of Butler’s talented freshman class, especially since Aaron Thompson went down with injury and the freshmen were forced to lead the team. In this one, Tate and Harris looked like budding stars. Tate shot 5/8 from three, bailing out the Bulldogs late in the shot clock multiple times. He also had five assists to just one turnover, though that turnover was a big one down the stretch. The confidence these two displayed, along with Wilmoth, in battling back from a deficit on the road against a tough opponent should have Butler fans extremely excited for the future.
Butler hosts Georgetown on Wednesday, January 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Seton Hall plays Creighton on Saturday, January 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET.