Kamar Baldwin surveys the defense earlier this season. Baldwin and the rest of the Bulldogs face Marquette on Jan. 31. Collegian file photo.
JOSH MULLENIX | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Who: Butler vs. Marquette: What you need to know
When: Jan. 31, 9 p.m.
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
How to Watch: FS1
The Butler men’s basketball team sits at 5-4 in conference play halfway through the Big East schedule. Now it is time to reset and prepare to see every team again in the final stretch of the regular season. First up is the Marquette Golden Eagles. In the first matchup, the Bulldogs benefitted from 37 points from Kelan Martin en route to a 94-83 win inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. This time the Bulldogs travel to Wisconsin in search of their first signature Big East road win.
In the first contest, Butler did a good job controlling the talented Marquette backcourt. Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard were held to only 31 points combined on eight-of-21 shooting. With that being said, the two have not lost their ability to score. Rowsey put up 29 points against the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats and the two combined for 42 points. Both players are averaging over 20 points and averaging around 40 percent from beyond the arc. The defensive game plan usually starts with those two guards and stopping them is priority number one.
The bulk of that defensive responsibility will be on Baldwin and Thompson. The suffocating backcourt has done a good job all season containing the Big East’s most talented guards. Most recently, the duo held Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s leading scorer, to an 0-for-12 outing and only two points. This time around the firepower is doubled and good defense is a must from the tip. The battle in the backcourt will be a joy to watch as two elite defenders go up against two elite scorers.
It’s OK to let another player have a crazy game as long as you keep Howard and Rowsey contained.
Back on Jan. 12, Marquette guard Sam Hauser tied a career high with 30 points against the Bulldogs and Butler still won by double digits. While maybe it is not ideal to let a player drop 30, making other players score for Marquette is the key to beating them. If the Bulldogs contain the backcourt and make Hauser the number one option for the Golden Eagles, it will make it easier for Butler to keep up with their high-powered offense. Apart from those three players averaging in double figures, no other scorer is averaging more than eight points per game. The Marquette attack is top-heavy and they depend on those three guys to score the overwhelming majority of their points.
Share the love on offense
It helps when Martin scores 37, but the offensive attack in the first matchup was spread out as the Bulldogs have four players in double figures and three players with more than 15 points. They also assisted on half of their field goals. This Butler offense is most efficient when everyone is involved and ball movement is at a premium. Multiple weapons on offense forces Marquette to focus on everybody, taking the pressure off all of Butler’s scorers.
Follow Josh on Twitter @TheJMULL_