Butler vs. Seton Hall: Beyond the box score

Kamar Baldwin launches a shot. The sophomore had nine points against the Pirates. Collegian file photo. 

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

The Butler men’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a 77-70 loss on the road to Seton Hall. The defeat means that the Bulldogs finish with a 9-9 record in the Big East and a 19-12 mark overall. They enter the Big East Tournament as the six seed and face Seton Hall again on March 8. Here are three takeaways from another disappointing performance.

1. Butler’s defense kept them in the game for a half. 

Normally when teams score 27 points, shoot 35 percent from the field, 25 percent from three and record only a single assist in the first half, they’re in big trouble heading into the locker room. Thanks to another fantastic defensive performance, the Bulldogs managed to be within four at halftime. There are two different ways to look at this.

On one hand, Butler’s defense hasn’t looked as good as it did in the first half for a while. If the Bulldogs are going to win games in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, this is the kind of defensive effort they will need to bring. Things unraveled in the second half, but there are definitely some positives to build upon. On the other hand, one assist in 20 minutes of basketball is inexcusable. The Bulldogs are going to struggle mightily if they can’t create better shots and fix their ball movement.

2. Kelan Martin needs help.

Martin’s 35 points accounted for exactly half of Butler’s total, which is way too high. Aside from Martin, no other Bulldog scored more than 10 points and the bench contributed a concerning six. While Martin is obviously the focal point of Butler’s offense, the supporting cast needs to be more productive. As good as Martin is, he can’t beat teams by himself.

Kamar Baldwin has also really struggled lately, averaging a meager 8.75 points over his last four games. Without Baldwin playing at his best, it becomes even more important for everyone to step up. That’s not happening right now and Butler is entering the Big East Tournament on a two-game losing streak as a result.

3. It’s going to be a stressful week for Butler and Bulldog fans. 

The Bulldogs’ poor end to the regular season means their spot in the NCAA Tournament is much less secure than it could have been. A win in the Big East Tournament would go a long way in reducing the anxiety level of everyone invested in Butler basketball. A third consecutive loss would place the Bulldogs squarely on the bubble and may mean a trip to Dayton to play in the First Four.

At the end of the day, Butler’s resume should still be good enough to earn a ticket to the Big Dance. However, the Bulldogs had a chance to make sure it wasn’t in question and failed to take advantage. Now, their fate is in the hands of the selection committee. If the Bulldogs exit New York City without a win, selection Sunday will be a very stressful event.

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