Sophomore Simas Lukosius drives to the basket against Georgetown on Feb. 19. Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
MATTHEW CRANE | SPORTS CO-EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Butler men’s basketball team defeated the DePaul Blue Demons 59-58 to sweep the regular season series. The Bulldogs were led by senior guard/forward Ali Ali and sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius with each scoring 15 points in the effort. Ali’s 15 points broke the season-high of 11 points he set in the previous game against Georgetown. Sophomore guard Jayden Taylor added 13 points and was the only player in the game to play all 40 minutes.
DePaul was led by graduate Umoja Gibson who had a game-high 25 points. Their other four starters combined to score 26 points. Gibson finished 9-19 from the field in a game where he was the primary scoring option as no other Blue Demon took more than nine shots. The Blue Demons were held well below their season-scoring average of 70.9 points per game.
Let’s go beyond the box score to recap how the Dawgs were able to get back into the win column.
The Ali Ali we saw coming off injury is not the same one we are seeing now. This version of Ali has looked more confident and has been rewarded with back-to-back games of season-high scoring totals. Ali also grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists on the night along with scoring what ended up being the game-winner.
Ali has shown a defensive presence all season long with his long arms and switchability, but the offense had yet to truly shine until now. Last season at Akron, Ali led the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and it was only a matter of time before he was able to get comfortable on the offensive end. It is a shame that Ali was unable to play during non-conference play because this could have been an entirely different team with him healthy.
While it is late in the season and the Dawgs are towards the bottom of the Big East standings, it has been an encouraging sign to see Ali play more like what he is capable of. If his play continues to ascend, it would do a lot for the Bulldogs’ hopes of being successful in the Big East Tournament.
Don’t call it a comeback
In this win, the Bulldogs did something they had struggled with all season long. Coming into the game, the team was 1-13 when trailing at halftime. We have seen them unable to muster any attempt to come back in games and it appeared this one might be headed in the same direction.
After the team went down 12 points, things were starting to look bleak until Butler went on a 25-9 run to take over the game. The most surprising part of the game was the fact that the Dawgs won even with poor shooting from three. The team finished 3-17 from behind the arc but were able to remain in the game due to their 50% shooting mark on shots inside the arc.
While this was a win and should be recognized as such, there are some caveats. With their loss, DePaul fell to 9-19 on the season and 3-14 in Big East play. They have been a poor team all season long. It was not a good sign that the Dawgs were unable to break the 60-point mark and had to overcome a double-digit deficit in order to win. There are going to need to be some major strides on the offensive end in the last two games of the regular season for the team to avoid a losing record.
The Bulldogs will return home to Hinkle Fieldhouse for their final home game against the No.10 Marquette Golden Eagles on Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles won the first matchup 60-52 back on Feb. 4. Butler is currently in ninth place in the Big East standings, while the Golden Eagles sit in first place by two games over Xavier and Providence.