In-state battle: Bulldogs face Irish in Round of 32

KYLE BEERY | SPORTS EDITOR | kbeery@butler.edu

The first full day of NCAA Tournament action saw four upsets (nearly seven), and 12 of the day’s 16 games were decided by 10 points or fewer (five one-point games).

Butler and Notre Dame both survived close games at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, the Fighting Irish narrowly escaping what would have been a major upset.

The No. 3-seeded Irish (30-5) beat No. 14-seed Northeastern 69-65. The Huskies had an opportunity to tie or take the lead after forcing a Pat Connaughton turnover with 30 seconds to play.

But they turned it over with three seconds on the clock without even getting a shot off.

No. 6-seed Butler (23-10) beat No. 11-seed Texas 56-48 behind junior Kellen Dunham’s 20 points.. It was a low-scoring game with a lot of missed shots. Butler shot 33.3 percent from the field, while the Longhorns shot 34 percent.

It was a special win for Butler, as far as streaks go.

 

In-state foes meet for first time in nearly ten years

  • No. 6-seed Butler vs. No. 3-seed Notre Dame
  • 9:40 p.m. ET – TBS
  • CONSOL Energy Center – Pittsburgh, Penn.

Butler has won the previous six meetings between the schools, the last one coming in the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off.

The Irish have owned the Bulldogs in the all-time series, with a 71-31 record, dating back to when both teams played each other on a regular basis from the 1920s through the mid-1990s.

The Irish last made the Sweet Sixteen in 2003, while the Bulldogs have been four times in that span. Notre Dame has had expectations of getting back there all season. It went 12-1 in non-conference play with its signature wins coming against then-No. 19 Michigan State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and a 94-63 blowout of Purdue at the Crossroads Classic.

Mike Brey’s team then finished in third place in the ACC, with marquee regular season wins over Duke, Louisville, and North Carolina.

The Irish stormed through the conference tournament with wins over Miami (FL), Duke and North Carolina. They have now won six straight and nine of their last 10 after Thursday’s win over Northeastern.

Senior Jerian Grant leads the Irish with 16.8 points per games, while Connaughton gets 12.8 PPG.

Junior Roosevelt Jones is expected to play Saturday. (Collegian File Photo)

Junior Roosevelt Jones is expected to play Saturday.
(Collegian File Photo)

Jones will play Saturday, expect change of pace from Longhorns’ size

Junior Butler standout Roosevelt Jones suffered an apparent leg injury during Thursday’s win, collapsing on his way back to the locker room. He did return late in the game, finishing with six points and four assists.

Jones received “around-the-clock” treatment on his left knee, and head coach Chris Holtmann said he will play, according to online reports. 

It is unknown, however, how much he will play, or what exactly the injury was.

Texas’ roster featured seven players 6-foot-8 or taller, something head coach Chris Holtmann said they were hoping to avoid heading into the tournament during Thursday’s prostgame press conference.

They did not want to play a “rim-protecting team,” but they were able to outlast the Longhorns, and now must switch gears for the Irish.

“They really spread you out, “Holtmann said. “They are completely different, so they’re going to present a number of challenges we’re going to have to respond to with their ability to spread you out.”

Completely different is an understatement. They are a much better offensive team than Texas, ranking 12th in the nation in points per game (78.8 PPG) and second in field goal percentage (51 percent).

They are also a smaller team than the Longhorns, with just one player taller than 6-foot-5 in the starting lineup, Zach Auguste at 6-foot-10.

Auguste led Notre Dame with 25 points and five rebounds Thursday.

 

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