Butler vs. Morehead State: Beyond the box score

Kelan Martin during the Utah game earlier this season. Martin finished with a team-high 20 points. Collegian file photo. 

JOSHUA DOERING | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | jdoering@butler.edu

The Butler men’s basketball team started slowly but exploded in the second half for their ninth win of the season. While the first half was a struggle offensively, the second half showed just how dangerous this team can be scoring the ball at times. Here are three takeaways.

1. Butler needs everyone to contribute on the offensive end.

Until 14:20 left in the game, only four Bulldogs were on the score sheet. Two starters, Aaron Thompson and Paul Jorgensen, were scoreless in the first half and Thompson finished without a single point. It has been proven time and time again that offense doesn’t come easy to this team, so scoring needs to be a team effort. Without a multitude of players putting the ball in the basket, the issues that already exist are going to become even more problematic.

When Butler got going in the second half, buckets were pouring in from all over the place. Seven different players accounted for the 52 points the Bulldogs scored after halftime. Not surprisingly, they also increased their field goal percentage by an incredible 26 percent from the first half. Butler’s best offense comes when the ball is moving fluidly and everyone is a scoring threat the opposition needs to respect.

2. The Bulldogs can’t afford to continue their slow starts in conference play.

Over their past two games, Butler has shot a combined 29 percent from the field in the first half. The 3-point shooting was even worse at 2-for-19. While they still had a five-point lead at halftime in this game, the score shouldn’t have been that close. The Bulldogs actually outscored Purdue in the second half, but the game was pretty much out of reach by halftime. The win over Ohio State also required a late run to force overtime after a poor first half.

Teams have a bad half every now and then, it happens. However, poor first half performances have become a theme for this team, particularly against better opponents. With only one more game before Big East action starts, Butler needs to start playing with more intensity in the first 20 minutes. It’s one thing to recover from a bad half against Morehead State. It’s something entirely different trying to mount a rally against the likes of Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall and Creighton.

3. Nate Fowler may have finally found his rhythm. 

Fowler came into the game averaging only five points per game. He scored 11 points in the game and only missed one shot in the process. The junior has now reached double digits in two of his last three games and seems to be feeling more comfortable with his role in coach LaVall Jordan’s offense.

Coming into the season, Fowler was one of the players who was expected to take on a bigger role, but that hasn’t really happened. Through the first 11 games, his scoring average is slightly down from last year. Fowler has also really struggled from beyond the arc after knocking down 48 percent of his threes as a sophomore. If he can find his shooting touch again and continue his improved play, it would be a major boost for the Bulldogs.

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