Senior guard/forward Ali Ali scored a season-high 11 points against Georgetown on Feb. 19. Photo by Claire Runkel.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | email@example.com
With three games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Butler men’s basketball team will be looking to close the season on a high note starting with a matchup with the DePaul Blue Demons on Feb. 22. That task hasn’t gone in the right direction lately, as the Bulldogs lost their first game of the year when leading at half to a lowly Georgetown team that has just two wins in conference play this season. With any hopes of playing in the postseason riding on their success in the Big East tournament, winning a game like this one helps Butler’s case.
Here’s what you need to know before the Bulldogs take on the Blue Demons in Chicago.
Who: Butler at DePaul
When: Feb. 22, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Wintrust Arena; Chicago, Illinois
How to watch/listen: FS1/WXNT 1430 AM
Where is the three point shooting?
There was a time this season where the Bulldogs ranked among the best in the Big East in shooting the ball from deep. Now they sit in the bottom half, ranking seventh at 34%. The last four games have been exceptionally inefficient — 8-24, 5-15, 5-23, 7-26. Sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius, the Bulldogs’ best three-point shooter, has gone 2-13 from three in the last two games. This game will be a good opportunity to snap out of the slump as DePaul ranks seventh in the Big East in three-point percentage defense.
Butler will need to keep DePaul at bay from the three-point land, as the Blue Demons live and die by the three ball — nearly 34% of their field goals from beyond the arc. Ranking last in the conference in field goal percentage, DePaul is second in the Big East in three-point shooting at 36%. Graduate center Manny Bates got into foul trouble early in the first matchup this season, allowing DePaul to drive in the paint when their three-pointers weren’t falling. If Bates can’t return into the lineup, protecting the paint will have to be added to the list of priorities too.
Blue Demon scouting report
DePaul is led by their veteran backcourt. The Blue Demons’ best scorer and three-point shooter is graduate Umoja Gibson, averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting 41.8% from three. The Oklahoma transfer leads the conference in three-point field goals and is third in three-point percentage. Right behind Gibson is another efficient shooter in graduate Javan Johnson. Johnson is averaging 14.9 points per game and shooting 40% from three. Butler’s main defensive assignment will no doubt be to limit Gibson and Johnson’s efficiency — graduate guard Eric Hunter Jr. and sophomore guard Jayden Taylor will have their hands full.
Another player to keep an eye on is graduate Eral Penn. Penn ranks in the top 10 in the Big East in both offensive and defensive rebounding. Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas will need to make sure he’s boxing out on defense to make sure Penn doesn’t grab any second chances for DePaul.