The Marquette Golden Eagles dominated most of the game Tuesday night against the Butler Bulldogs. But turnovers and poor free throw shooting allowed Butler to climb back into it. On the final possession of the game, the Bulldogs got an open three-pointer for their best shooter Jair Bolden, but his shot rimmed out and the Golden Eagles prevailed 70-67, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Marquette’s guards carried the day, with Koby McEwen and D.J. Carton combining for 36 points. Neither did much from beyond the arc, but they were able to get to the rim and get to the free throw line almost at will. The Golden Eagles struggled mightily to protect the ball, turning it over 21 times, but when they weren’t turning it over they were scoring, shooting a scorching 61.5% from the field.
The Bulldogs started out slow but charged back late in the second half, utilizing a full-court press and some hot three-point shooting to close the gap. Chuck Harris shined for Butler, scoring 16 points and Bo Hodges came two assists away from a triple double, but it wasn’t enough for Coach Jordan’s squad; star guard Aaron Thompson was hampered by foul trouble and eventually fouled out.
Marquette improves to 5-7 in conference play and will take some confidence into a Saturday meeting with Creighton. Butler drops to 4-8 and will face DePaul next.
The Bulldogs have a lot of freshmen and transfers getting minutes but they’re at a point in the season where LaVall Jordan would like to see them starting to play solid fundamental basketball – and at times, they have. But they were severely lacking in the fundamentals department against Marquette. Their season-long struggle at the free throw line continued with a 13/25 effort. They also struggled to defend without fouling, yielding 29 free throws to the Golden Eagles. The future is seemingly bright for Butler, but Coach Jordan will have to whip his group into shape.
Marquette: Jekyll and Hyde
Coach Wojciechowski was glad to escape with a win in the end, but the victory is likely bittersweet. Marquette showed off its talent, getting contributions from veterans and youngsters alike. The Eagles also played tough defense in the first half, limiting the opponent to just 21 points. But at the end of the game, things began to unravel. They got lazy on defense, struggled to protect the ball, and missed key free throws. Ultimately, they gave Butler a prime opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime where they would have been without Dawson Garcia and Theo John (both fouled out). Fortunately, Butler wasn’t able to capitalize, but the Golden Eagles will have to figure out how to play more consistently.
Butler hosts DePaul on Saturday, February 6 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Marquette hosts Creighton on Saturday, February 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET.