Butler is still known for its defense and game control, but the Hoyas have an extra day or two of rest and some recent Hinkle magic from behind the arc working for their side. Health, however, appears to be on neither team’s side right now. Ewing stated that neither Mac McClung nor Omer Yurtseven have practiced this week and Lavall Jordan is missing starting guard Aaron Thompson and back up big Derrik Smits (yes, you know his father).
No surprise with Ewing saying that both McClung and Yurtseven are day to day.— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) February 13, 2020
McClung has been day to day for quite a few days now.
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Thompson, a top defender who also directs Butler’s offense, has had a bumpy Big East season. He missed three games because of a wrist injury and most of second halves in home games against Seton Hall and Xavier.
“He’s feeling a lot better than he was yesterday,” Jordan said.
Because the Bulldogs have played so often without Thompson, they are at least prepared if he is sidelined again. Many of the minutes he would have played have gone to senior wing Henry Baddley, who has been influential in home wins over Marquette and Xavier.
I mentioned this in the piece but Aaron Thompson and Derrik Smits are both regarded as day-to-day with their injuries.— Lukas Harkins (@hardwiredsports) February 13, 2020
Jordan Tucker sparked the Bulldogs over the next stretch, as back-to-back three-pointers from the junior increased Butler’s lead to 57-43 with 5:50 remaining. With Xavier pressing full-court over the final six minutes, the visitors were able to trim the lead to six before Baldwin scored five consecutive points to give the Bulldogs some breathing room at 64-55 with 73 seconds to play.
Butler shot 47 percent from the field and was able to earn a draw on the glass against one of the BIG EAST’s best rebounding teams (29-29). Each team had 12 assists against nine turnovers.
Tyrique Jones posted a double-double for Xavier with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Naji Marshall led the Musketeers with 20 points, with 18 coming in the second half.
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday afternoon, hosting Georgetown at 2:30 p.m. The game is sold out. FOX will deliver the game to a national audience.
Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski had high praise for the Bulldogs, particularly Baldwin. “They made incredible winning plays,” he said postgame. “They have a really connected group and a great, great player in Kamar Baldwin, who at the end of the game we didn’t have answers for.”
...Performing a role that typically would have been designated to Thompson, Baldwin and Baddley keep Howard from getting too many open looks. Howard, who was averaging nearly 32 points per game in Big East play, finished with 26 points, his second-lowest output in eight conference contests.
Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said thought Baldwin’s defensive efforts were particularly crucial. “I thought [Baldwin’s] defense was as big as anything,” he said. “Howard’s got 18 at halftime, and Henry and Kamar shouldered the bulk of the load together, one at a time. … I thought the defensive effort was great.”
Butler’s usual offensive stalwarts were slow to produce in the first half and junior point guard Aaron Thompson left the game in the second half after taking an elbow. So Baddley responded by knocking down three 3-pointers in the first half and took on Thompson’s defensive assignments in the second half...
Baddley finished with nine points and combined with junior wing Jordan Tucker and senior big man Derrik Smits to give the Bulldogs a 23-6 edge in bench scoring, That was critical for the Bulldogs on a night when Xavier stars Tyrique Jones and Naji Marshall outscored Butler top scorers Sean McDermott and Kamar Baldwin, 39-25.
The Bulldogs take pride in their depth and their ability to find someone else to perform when Plan A isn’t working. On Wednesday night, that someone was Baddley.
ON THE BOARDS: What was one of Butler’s most glaring weaknesses a season ago has become a strength in 2019-20. The Bulldogs have out-rebounded 18 of its 24 opponents this season after out-rebounding only 10 of 33 in 2018-19. Butler has taken that up a level in BIG EAST play, out-rebounding opponents by an average margin of +4.3. Butler held a 46-24 rebounding advantage at St. John’s in the BIG EAST opener on New Year’s Eve, its largest margin since 63-28 vs. The Citadel Nov. 14, 2015. The Bulldogs also out-rebounded Providence, 44-26, in the Jan. 10 win in Rhode Island.
HOME SWEET HINKLE: Butler is 11-2 this season at home. The Bulldogs are averaging 73.1 points per game and shooting 48 percent from the field in those contests.
FINE LINE: In Butler’s 18 wins, the Bulldogs have attempted 33 more free throws than its opponents (311-278). In the team’s six losses, opponents have attempted 45 more free throws than Butler (140-95). On Sunday, Marquette had a 28-8 advantage in free throw attempts.
Butler is ranked #8 in defensive efficiency, Marquette is ranked #9. Butler is #5 on the offensive side, Marquette is #2.
That would seem to imply a significant advantage for Marquette, as they’re the team with the better offense to start with. However, Butler’s strength as a defensive team comes in effective field goal defense, where they’re only allowing teams to shoot 46.1%, the second best mark in the conference. That sounds like a problem for the Golden Eagles, who are a very good shooting team, but it’s not entirely one. Butler makes their bones as a two-point shooting defense, which is the best in the Big East. Marquette’s objectively not good at shooting twos this season, but they’re lightning great at shooting threes.
Three consecutive three-pointers gave Marquette a 62-45 advantage with 6:09 to play after the Bulldogs had cut the lead to eight for the first time in the second half. That stretch proved to be the difference...
Kamar Baldwin, after scoring 31 in the overtime win over Marquette Jan. 24 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, led the Bulldogs with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Bryce Nze, playing near his hometown of Hartland, Wis., for the first time as a Bulldog, had 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Aaron Thompson had seven assists...
Butler shot only 38 percent from the field with Baldwin and Nze combining for 16 of the team’s 23 makes. Marquette went 11-of-24 from three-point range (46 percent) and 43 percent overall. The Golden Eagles made 21 of their 28 attempts from the free throw line.
For the third straight season, Creighton got off to a slow start at Butler and could not recover. Two years ago, they fell behind 42-22 in the first half and though they made runs once their offense settled in, they never got closer than 13 the rest of the game...
“Defensively, often times you’re going to play 20-25 seconds or more and as soon as you have any breakdown they’re going to make you pay,” Greg McDermott said of Butler’s methodical offensive philosophy. “Sean McDermott got us in the first half, and we did a good job on (Kamar) Baldwin. We did a better job on McDermott in the second, and then Baldwin got us.”
...Baldwin was 0-for-9 from the floor, 0-3 on three-pointers, and had zero assists and zero rebounds, in 18 minutes of box score invisibility. But Sean McDermott burned them for 12 points and 6 rebounds, making a very efficient 5-of-7 from the field.
Another field house, exactly 40 years before Wednesday...