Graduate center Manny Bates scored 19 points in the win against Xavier on Feb. 10. Photo by Claire Runkel.
MATTHEW CRANE | SPORTS CO-EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
After two home games, the Butler men’s basketball team hits the road to take on the Villanova Wildcats. Villanova is coming off a hard-fought 58-54 win against Seton Hall on Feb. 11. Like the Wildcats, the Bulldogs are also on a two-game winning streak and are coming off a thrilling 69-67 win over a ranked Xavier team.
Here’s what you need to know before tip-off between the Bulldogs and the Wildcats.
Who: Butler at Villanova
When: Feb. 14, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Finneran Pavilion; Villanova, Pennsylvania
How to watch/listen: CBSSN/ WXNT 1430 AM
Villanova’s guard play
A key for the Bulldogs will be finding out how to limit senior Justin Moore. Moore has the ability to take over a game. He recently made his return to the lineup in the loss to Providence on Jan. 29 and is coming off a torn Achilles, an injury he suffered during the 2022 Elite Eight. Since he has been back, the Wildcats are 2-3 but do not overlook his impact on this team.
Moore has gradually started to look more comfortable in each game back. Last season, he averaged a career-high 14.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. If he is on, this Villanova team becomes difficult to defend with the multitude of scoring options available.
The Bulldogs’ guards will have to be on their game on the defensive end. Graduate Caleb Daniels will also be difficult to hold off from scoring at a high clip. Daniels leads the Wildcats in scoring with 16.2 points per game and has scored in double digits in 10 straight games.
Follow the formula
In the last game against Villanova, the Bulldogs were able to prevail with a 79-71 win. In order to replicate their success, they will need to be locked in on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Bulldogs shot 42.9% in that game. While they do not necessarily have to repeat that number, they need to be hitting their threes at a solid rate.
Another important factor will be overall offensive execution. When the Bulldogs move the ball and do not get stagnant, good things happen. The team has to find the right balance between pushing the pace and playing slowly. In these last two games, whenever the Dawgs have a dry spell on offense it tends to be due to playing too slowly. Being forced to take rushed jump shots late in the shot clock is not a recipe for success for this team.
A way to get around that is by making sure the ball gets into the paint and in the hands of graduate center Manny Bates. In the win against Xavier, the Bulldogs were able to get off to a fast start due to the involvement of Bates. His dominance down low and ability to kick out to open shooters is what helps make Butler’s offense click. If junior Chuck Harris is able to return to the floor out of concussion protocol, it will give Bates yet another weapon to kick the ball out to.