On Tuesday, February 8th, the Butler Bulldogs travel to Omaha to face off against the Creighton Bluejays. The last time these teams met to play a game, Butler put on an offensive clinic in the second half to the tune of 45 second-half points and won the game handily against the Bluejays. Now, with the game at home, Creighton looks to avoid the season sweep and get back to their winning ways, while Butler looks to win their first game in a young February as well as put Creighton in a bad spot with Selection Sunday on the horizon.
How to watch Butler at Creighton
Time: 9:00pm ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
If there was ever a time for the Creighton Bluejays (13-8, 5-5) to get moving in the right direction, now is the time. The Jays have had KenPom’s highest SOS in the conference of any of the Big East teams, and now begin a stretch where they play four teams that are sub-100 in that metric. Does this necessarily indicate that the teams are going to be push-overs? Absolutely not. While Creighton’s next four games (vs Butler, at Georgetown, vs Georgetown, at DePaul) feature three teams with a combined conference record of 6-27, these teams have still been competitive, with wins against Seton Hall, Xavier, and most importantly, Creighton.
The team in that set of three with a win against Creighton does happen to be the team Creighton hosts tonight: the Butler Bulldogs (11-12, 4-8). In that game, Bo Hodges ran the show just a few games back from an injury, pacing the Bulldogs in points with 18 and draining a team-high three threes. Since that game, Butler has been involved in three one-possession basketball games and has gone 1-2 in that span. Needless to say, Butler looks to stop their two-game skid quickly with a dominant performance against Creighton like they saw in Hinkle on the 26th of January.
Butler has had a consistent starting five since the loss at Providence on the 23rd of January. Pacing the Bulldogs in scoring is Chuck Harris, the 6’2” sophomore, with 10.8 PPG. Alongside him in the backcourt is Aaron Thompson, who leads the Bulldogs in assists per game (4.1) and steals per game (1.4), as well as Bo Hodges, who is second on the team in rebounds per game (5.6). Patrolling the frontcourt includes Bryce Nze (8.2 PPG), the leading rebounder on the team at 5.9 per game, and Bryce Golden (8.8 PPG), who has the highest three-point shooting percentage on the team with at least one attempt per game with a shooting clip of 37.5% from three.
Creighton has had a consistent starting five for the entire year, with the quintet of Ryan Nembhard, Alex O’Connell, Arthur Kaluma, Ryan Hawkins, and Ryan Kalkbrenner all starting the 21 games for Creighton. Nembhard (11.5 PPG) is the lead guard for Creighton in terms of assists, with 4.1 per game. O’Connell (12.4 PPG) leads this inconsistent three-point shooting team in three-point shooting percentage at 36.6% from three, with Hawkins (12.6 PPG) closely behind him at 36.4% from three. Kaluma (9.0 PPG) has been on a roll recently, with two games reaching at least 15 points in his last six, and Kalkbrenner (11.4 PPG) has been the defensive anchor in the paint for this team with 2.9 blocks per game.
For Butler to win…
…the Bulldogs really need to shut down Ryan Hawkins. In Creighton’s five conference losses, Hawkins has only scored double digits once. Shut him down, and Creighton’s offense begins to sputter.
For Creighton to win…
…the Jays cannot take chances on defense assuming a player will miss a shot. Part of scouting is assuming that a player with a bad three-point shooting percentage will miss, but it burned them last time against Butler.
(Player statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference. Conference SOS courtesy of KenPom.)