Men’s basketball at Villanova: Beyond the box score

Graduate center Manny Bates ended with 12 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Villanova on Feb. 14. Photo by Claire Runkel.


After winning two games in a row for the first time since the beginning of 2023, the Butler men’s basketball team dropped a game on the road, 62-50, to the Villanova Wildcats on Feb. 14. Sophomore guard Jayden Taylor led all scorers with 20 points and played all 40 minutes. Graduate center Manny Bates was the only other Bulldog — just six players saw the court for Butler — to score in double figures with 12 points and nine rebounds. Taylor and Bates took 30 of the Bulldogs’ 53 shots on the night.

On the Villanova side, senior Justin Moore scored 15 points and graduate Caleb Daniels added 13 points. While the guard tandem were the leading scorers for the Wildcats, they only shot a combined 7-23, or 30%, from the field. Villanova, the leader of the Big East in free throw percentage, shot 16-19 as a team from the line.

Let’s go beyond the box score to reveal why the Bulldogs were unable to pick their third win in a row.


Giving away points off turnovers

In a game where baskets were hard to come by, it was imperative that Butler did not give Villanova extra opportunities. In the first half, the Bulldogs did a good job of doing that by committing just four turnovers. In the second half, however, the Bulldogs committed seven turnovers in the half compared to the Wildcats’ three. This gave Villanova eight points off of turnovers in the second half — a cushion they used to maintain their lead for pretty much the rest of the game.

Down 51-45 with 4:50 left in the game, Butler committed three straight turnovers when those possessions could have been used to tie the game. Those turnovers epitomized the half for the Dawgs and ultimately decided the game. The wins against St. John’s and Xavier proved that Butler is capable of making clutch plays down the stretch, it is just a matter of executing those plays that will decide how many more games they will win or lose going forward. 


Jayden Taylor is on fire

Speaking of clutch plays, Taylor has proven he is a player that head coach Thad Matta can look to in those moments. He’s averaging 19.5 points in the last four games, numbers that he was putting up at the start of the season. He has absolutely proven that he deserves to stay in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season and has been the driving force of the offense as of late.

His shooting wasn’t great in this game — 7-19 from the field — but it can be overlooked since he has been much more efficient in his other outings. If he can limit plays like driving into crowds at the rim — he was swatted by first-year Cam Whitmore badly on a couple of occasions — then he will be a truly dangerous threat to opposing defenses in the Big East.


Up next for the Bulldogs

Butler will return home to Hinkle Fieldhouse to face the Georgetown Hoyas on Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs won the first meeting handily, 80-51, back on Jan. 1. Butler currently sits at ninth in the Big East standings, while the Hoyas are 11th.


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