The Wofford Terriers were scrappy and executed well as always on Saturday night, but the Butler Bulldogs simply proved to be too much. Butler led for almost the whole contest, but the Terriers hung around until there were less than ten minutes remaining; then the Bulldogs put their paws on the gas and ran away, eventually prevailing 80-61.
The first half was back-and-forth until Butler began pressing its size advantage. Bryce Nze had back-to-back buckets around the 14-minute mark and a few minutes later, Bryce Golden scored six points in a three-minute span. Golden looked like a giant compared to everybody else on the floor and the FS2 broadcast aptly compared him to the Phoenix Suns’ Aron Baynes. A Golden layup gave Butler an eight-point lead with 7:40 remaining in the first half. After that, a series of good free-throw shooting and a couple of three-pointers expanded the lead to 17 by halftime.
The second-half was slow-paced as the whistles were extremely tight, but with about ten minutes left, the trailing Terriers sped things up by instituting a full-court press. Wofford combined aggressive defense with a stretch of good jump shooting and a Nathan Hoover triple cut the lead to ten with 7:22 left. This was the only bright spot for Hoover who was 1-10 from three on the night. Hoover, who scorched the nets for most of last season, has shot a dismal 9-35 from behind the arc so far this year.
After a timeout, the Bulldogs came roaring back onto the floor, taking advantage of Wofford’s size disadvantage and fatigue. Butler went on a 10-0 run with eight of the points coming on layups. After this surge, the game took on the feel of a blowout and the rest of the clock trickled away to a Butler victory. Butler’s non-conference home winning streak improved to 54 games.
Kamar Baldwin led the way with 23 points, but the rest of the scoring was evenly distributed for Butler with six players scoring between 7-12 points. Baldwin and Sean McDermott tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven, and Aaron Thompson dished out seven assists to lead the Bulldogs. The indefatigable Storm Murphy led Wofford with 19 points.
Dawgs Do It All
This has to be an encouraging game for Coach LaVall Jordan. After beating a talented, but inexperienced team in Minnesota, Butler had the opposite experience in facing Wofford, a battle-tested and experienced team with less talent. Wofford executes well and has a lot of three-point shooters, but the Bulldogs buckled down defensively and didn’t let them get many great looks. Butler also looked good on offense, scoring in a variety of ways; three pointers, drives to the hoop, post buckets, and free throws were all part of the recipe.
Additionally, Butler played just about a full 40 minutes. There may have been a few lax minutes in the second half, but for the most part, the Bulldogs competed end-to-end. This is something Jordan has emphasized a lot since coming to Butler and something that his team has struggled mightily to do. Butler plays Morehead State on Friday, and then the real grind of their non-conference slate begins, but the Dawgs look ready for the challenge.
Butler faces Morehead St. on Friday, November 22, at 7:00 p.m. ET.