Graduate center Manny Bates is averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season. Photo by Grace Hensley.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | email@example.com
The Butler men’s basketball team will endure a formidable Big East foe on Saturday afternoon in the 14th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette enters this game on a four-game winning streak, their most recent win coming against Villanova, 73-64. Butler has a streak of their own going, only it is the inverse kind. Butler has lost their last four games by an average of 23 points a game, with their most recent one coming against Seton Hall, 70-49. They will hope to break both streaks in this matchup.
Here’s what you need to know before tip-off in Milwaukee.
Who: Butler at No. 14 Marquette
When: Feb. 4, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Fiserv Forum; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
How to watch/listen: FS1/ WXNT 1430AM
Going back to what works
Remember early in the season, when half of the team was out due to injury and the rotation was six, maybe seven players? Statistically, that was when this Butler team was playing its best basketball. According to CBB Analytics and as of Jan. 30, Butler’s five-man rotation of graduate guard Eric Hunter Jr., junior guard Chuck Harris, sophomore guard Jayden Taylor, sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius and graduate center Manny Bates ranked sixth in DI in plus-minus this season. Who was first on that list? Marquette.
Of course, Bates has had to miss time due to injury this season and Harris will miss this game due to concussion symptoms. But when healthy, this lineup works. However, Taylor has not started a game since Dec. 22 at Creighton. This season, the Dawgs are 10-5 with Taylor in the starting lineup and 1-7 with him coming off the bench. Taylor starting versus Taylor off the bench isn’t the main contributing factor to Butler winning or losing. But with the Bulldogs losing how they have been, it wouldn’t hurt to at least entertain the thought of re-inserting the Indy native back into the lineup.
(Attempting to) stop Tyler Kolek
Butler’s biggest assignment by far will be to limit the effectiveness of Marquette guard Tyler Kolek. The junior guard is averaging 11.2 points, 7.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 47.4% from the field and 37.5% from three. The past two games, Kolek has scored 20 or more points and against DePaul on Jan. 28, he was a rebound shy of a triple-double — 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Since Kolek is so effective at getting his teammates the ball, there are four Golden Eagles who average double-digit points. Marquette’s leading scorer is sophomore Kam Jones, who averages 16 points a game and shoots an efficient 49% from the field. Two other starters, juniors Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Oso Ighodaro, average 13.6 and 12 points a game, respectively. Finally, sophomore David Joplin averages 10.4 points off the bench. Butler will need to play their best defensive game of the season if they want to stay in this game past the first half.