Men’s basketball: Bulldogs cruise in season opener, gear up for Princeton next

MATTHEW VANTRYON | STAFF REPORTER

Butler hosted Lamar Saturday night, ushering in the Brandon Miller era on a high note with an 89-58 win.

The offense picked up where it left off in the team’s exhibition games. The team’s 89 points is its most in a season opener since the 2000-2001 season, when Butler scored 90 versus Eastern Illinois.

Senior Khyle Marshall stole the show, netting 19 points and dominating the boards with 13 rebounds.

Marshall said he is looking to increase his effort and intensity this season.

“It’s now or never. It’s my last go-around, so I’ve got to give it all I’ve got,” Marshall said.

Miller said the leadership of seniors Marshall and junior forward Erik Fromm is beneficial, especially to the younger players on the squad’s.

“They have the experience, night in and night out, of being able to compete at a really high level,” Miller said. “They’ve taken their experiences and passed that down the best they can, and have taken a leadership role from day one and passed that on to the rest of the team.”

Kameron Woods also impressed, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds for the Bulldogs (1-0).

Lamar (0-1) proved to be a handful at the start, as the lead changed eight times in the first half.

Butler struggled from behind the arc, shooting 2-of-12 in the opening period. Noticeably absent was the presence of sophomore guard Kellen Dunham. Dunham managed only two points in the opening half.

The second half was a different story for the Bulldogs, as they were able to take advantage of opportunities on the inside. Butler scored 62 total points in the paint, while limiting Lamar to 22.

The team held the visiting Cardinals to nine field goals in the second half. Miller said he noticed the defensive improvement.

“I thought, as the game went along, we made some adjustments,” Miller said. “Guys came out in the second half, played better on the defensive end of the floor, and that got our offense jumpstarted.”

Butler dominated the offensive glass in the second half, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs were able to capitalize, scoring 16 second-chance points in the half.

Despite the team’s offensive success in the early going, junior Jackson Aldridge said defense remains a top priority.

“Everyone’s having fun right now, but we need to continue to make sure that we have a defensive mindset,” Aldridge said.

The team has won 15 consecutive season openers.

Fresh off a home-opening win against Lamar, the Butler men’s basketball team will play host to Princeton for the first time since the 1961-1962 season.

The Bulldogs are 2-0 all-time versus the Tigers (1-0). It will be the first time since the 1970-1971 season the men’s team has hosted an Ivy League school.

Princeton finished 17-11 last season and last made an NCAA tournament appearance in 2011.

Upperclassmen will look to lead the team this year. Guard T.J. Bray averaged nearly 10 points per game last season, but suffered a preseason hand injury and could be out until the end of the month.

Junior forward Denton Koon averaged 10.5 points per game last season.

The Tigers won their season opener 67-50 over Florida A&M.

The Bulldogs will look to continue their hot offensive start. Including their two exhibition victories, the team is averaging 95 points per game this season.

The team was 16-1 last season when senior forward Khyle Marshall scored in double figures. A strong season from him will be crucial to Butler’s success.

Junior Jackson Alridge may also get increased playing time versus Princeton.

Aldrige scored nine points and had two assists off the bench against Lamar.

The team will look to continue to force turnovers. Lamar turned the ball over 13 times, and Butler was able to score 20 points off the miscues.

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