Sophomore guard Jayden Taylor matches up against a UConn defender on Dec. 17. Photo by Claire Runkel.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | email@example.com
The Butler men’s basketball team was unable to complete an upset over No. 3 UConn Huskies in a 68-46 loss. With the loss in their Big East opener, the Bulldogs are now 8-4 on the season. Graduate center Manny Bates led the Dawgs with 16 points. Junior guard Chuck Harris was the only other Bulldog to score in double-figures with 12 points and grabbed a team-high six rebound. UConn was led by the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, junior Adama Sanogo, who ended the game with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Hawkins added 12 points.
Let’s go beyond the box score for Butler’s first home loss of the season.
Battle on the boards
The story of the night for the Bulldogs was their inability to grab rebounds. Coming into this game, one of the keys to victory for Butler was challenging UConn on the boards. Led by Sanogo and first-year Donovan Clingan — both of whom average seven rebounds a game — the Huskies were dominant on the glass. In the first half alone, they outrebounded Butler 31-15. 14 of those 31 rebounds were on the offensive glass, resulting in 10 second-chance points.
Neither team shot well in the first half — UConn shot 30% from the field and Butler shot 28%. What ended up being the difference, however, were the extra possessions that the Huskies got from those rebounds. UConn attempted 17 more shots than Butler in the game. More opportunities to score ultimately led to more points for the Huskies.
Tough shooting night
After shooting 50% or better in four straight games, Butler cooled down in this matchup with a season-low shooting percentage of 30%. Outside of Bates — who was 7-11 from the field — the rest of the team was 9-43 from the field. Both graduate guard Eric Hunter Jr. and sophomore guard Jayden Taylor had season-lows in points with two each, combining for an inefficient 2-15 from the field.
Looking outside of the loss, there were a few positives for Butler. Senior guard/forward Ali Ali and senior forward/center Jalen Thomas made their season debuts. Both players bring much-needed depth to a roster that was been depleted for most of the season. Ali will bring scoring and defense off the bench, while Thomas will give the second rotation some size and a much-needed rest to Bates.
Next up for the Bulldogs will be a road matchup with the Creighton Bluejays in Omaha on Dec. 22. The Bluejays are currently 6-6 on the season and also lost their Big East opener 69-58 to Marquette. Like Butler, Creighton has five players averaging double-figures.