Men’s basketball vs. Creighton: Beyond the box score

Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas played 30 minutes and blocked a team-high three shots. Photo by Lauren Gdowski. 


The Butler men’s basketball team lost for the second time this season to the Creighton Bluejays 73-52. The Bulldogs were led on offense by sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius who had 18 points on 4-5 shooting from three. Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas scored 10 points on 5-10 shooting and was able to bring down seven rebounds. The rest of the team shot a combined 8-36 from the floor and were unable to get much of anything going against a stout Creighton defense.

Creighton was dominant on both ends of the floor as they shot 46.9% and held Butler to 34.5% from the field. Sophomore Ryan Nembhard secured a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Baylor Scheierman also contributed 12 points. Junior Ryan Kalkbrenner pitched in 11 points and brought in nine rebounds. Of Kalkbrenner’s nine rebounds, seven were offensive rebounds, which showed the presence he brings to a game down in the paint. Sophomore Trey Alexander was the other Bluejay starter to hit double figures and ended with 11 points.

Let’s go beyond the box score to recap another conference double-digit defeat for the Dawgs.  


Problems without Manny Bates

While Butler was able to pick up a win without Manny Bates against Villanova, they were unable to replicate it against the size of Creighton. In what has been a consistent theme, the Bulldogs were outrebounded 47-24. Coach Thad Matta pointed to the offense as the key to the difference on the glass.

“Well, first we had to make shots, because we gave them so many opportunities to rebound because we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Matta said. “This is a sign of a really good basketball team, you shoot, miss and they’re bringing it as fast as you can. And so you’re worried about getting back probably more so than you are offensive rebounding.”

While the Bulldogs were focused on getting back, the lack of depth was impossible to overcome and it showed in the paint. The Bluejays scored 44 paint points and were overwhelmingly physical underneath the basket. Thomas did his best and first-year Connor Turnbull showed promise offensively but was overmatched on the defensive end by the skilled Bluejay big men. 


It’s raining threes

For a positive on the night, three-point shooting kept the Bulldogs in the game in the first half and was the only reason the loss was not worse than what it could have been. However, the Bulldogs were 6-10 from distance over the first 23 minutes of the game and then attempted only two more threes over the next 12 minutes of the game.

Matta mentioned how Creighton was able to prevent the Dawgs from shooting from behind the arc and how Lukosius was a bright spot in the offensive attack.

“They don’t give threes,” Matta said. “Statistically, they’re one of the best in the country in not giving threes. I thought they did a good job of really trying to deny [Lukosius] and push him out. Fortunately for us, he was making shots. I thought Simas really played well.” 


Looking ahead

Butler will take on No. 15 UConn at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Jan. 22. The Bulldogs will be looking to avenge their 68-46 defeat by the Huskies from the conference opener earlier this season. The Huskies will be coming off a road game at Seton Hall where they enter that matchup having lost four of their last five games.

The Bulldogs are running out of time in their attempt to pick up more conference wins and these next two games against No. 15 UConn and No. 22 Providence could see the Bulldogs potentially fall to 3-8 in conference play. Changes need to be made on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs to push for a spot toward the top of the conference. 



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