Graduate student Eric Hunter Jr. scans the floor for a teammate during an inbound play versus Villanova on Jan. 13. Photo by Claire Runkel.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
After an exciting win over Villanova, the Butler men’s basketball team will have to defend homecourt once again, this time against the Creighton Bluejays. In their previous meeting on Dec. 22, Creighton won in convincing fashion behind junior Ryan Kalkbrenner’s 19 points. Butler had a disappointing second-half performance in that game and will surely be looking to avenge the loss in the comforts of Hinkle Fieldhouse. History is on the side of the Dawgs in this matchup — Butler has won seven of the last eight home games versus Creighton. This season, the Bulldogs are 8-2 at home and the Bluejays are 0-4 on the road. The game will also be themed Project 44 Night. Project 44 honors former standout Andrew Smith by recruiting people to sign up for a bone marrow registry and potentially save a life.
Here’s what you need to know before tip-off.
Who: Butler vs. Creighton
When: Jan. 17, 7 p.m.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse
How to watch/listen: FS1/ WXNT 1430AM
Filling the Manny Bates void
Not much is clear on graduate center Manny Bates’s knee injury, but what is understood is that he will miss several games. This means that it is very likely that we will see a starting lineup of Hunter Jr.–Harris–Lukosius-Ali-Thomas once again. Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas held down the fort against Villanova and he will need to step up again in his matchup with Kalkbrenner.
Of course, replacing Bates is no easy task, and it is going to be difficult to replicate his impact down low on both the offensive and defensive end. That means that the rest of the lineup will need to make their presence felt early. Senior forward Ali Ali’s versatility on defense should allow the Dawgs to switch more against a Creighton offense that has multiple offensive weapons. First-year Connor Turnbull may have to play some crucial minutes down the stretch as well, with sophomore forward DJ Hughes’s status still in question.
Bluejays scouting report
Much like the opening period of Butler’s Big East conference schedule, the last three games for Creighton have been challenging to say the least. The Bluejays are 1-2 in their past three outings, most recently coming off a big 73-67 win at home over No. 17 Providence. For some reason, things did not start off well for the talented team from Omaha that was picked to win the conference. After starting 6-6, they are 4-2 in their last six games.
All five Creighton starters are averaging double figures in scoring. Since their last game versus Butler on Dec. 22, sophomore Trey Alexander is averaging 18.8 points per game. Butler will need to keep him at bay in order to keep the Bluejays from going on extended runs.