Senior guard Posh Alexander put up 13 points and eight assists against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 6. Photo by Andrew Buckley.
SARAH HOHMAN | SPORTS EDITOR | email@example.com
The Dawgs defeated Eastern Michigan (EMU) 94-55 to earn their first victory of the season in front of an eager home crowd.
With only one returner in the starting lineup, many fans were curious what this team would look like entering the season. With two exhibition wins and now a regular season victory, the Dawgs have proved that fans will be watching an entirely different team than last season.
Senior guard Jahmyl Telfort was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 18 points. He added four rebounds and two steals after getting in foul trouble early in the game.
Matta recruited junior guard Pierre Brooks for his scoring abilities, and so far he has proven to be one of the most reliable weapons on this offense. When Brooks is set up for a good shot, he is going to take it — and there is a good chance he will make it. On the night, he shot 7-12 from the field and 2-6 from three to put up 16 total points.
Along with Telfort and Brooks, senior guard Posh Alexander and senior guard DJ Davis added to the starting offense, both scoring 13 points. Alexander also contributed eight assists to help move the ball around and give his guys many opportunities on the floor.
Let’s go beyond the box score in Butler’s win against the Eagles.
Tale of two halves
The Dawgs got off to a slow start, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Butler allowed Eastern Michigan to shoot 44% from three and 31% from the field in the first half. The key difference in the second half was the Bulldogs holding the Eagles to just over 26% from behind the arc. Alexander shared what the team focused on during halftime.
“We spoke in the locker room about our defense, and we came out, and we just put it on display,” Alexander said. “[The difference between the second half and first half was] about toughness and really locking up on defense.”
The bench scored only seven points in the first half for Butler’s offense. This meant the starters had to carry the weight, and they did just that. Brooks played a big role with 11 first half points along with Telfort’s seven.
The Dawgs used momentum from the end of the first half to drive the second half. Butler’s bench put up 25 points to help seal the victory. Turnbull was an important contributor and he only had one point in the first half but put up 12 in the second. He did a good job of spacing and getting himself open on the court to knock in two threes in a row at the end of the game.
A big key to the offense in the second half was cleaning up their side of the court. In the first half, the Dawgs had nine total turnovers. Whereas in the second, they only had one. Matta said he emphasized taking care of the ball during halftime, which certainly translated into the second half.
The Dawgs struggled with second chance opportunities throughout the game. At times, senior center Jalen Thomas and senior center Andre Screen got beat in the paint, especially on EMU’s missed shots. Matta talked about what he saw on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively, we weren’t real good early,” Matta said. “ … If [the bigs] are going to pull the way we want them to pull and be aggressive, then we have to get the weakside filled down there to rebound. This is a team where our guards are going to have to rebound the basketball for us, and we need to get more out of those guys.”
Despite the slow start, the Dawgs cleaned it up in the second half on the glass. They outscored EMU on second chance points 12-5 compared to the first half. Telfort talked about the difference in rebounding between halves.
“In the first half, they were getting every offensive rebound,” Telfort said. “That’s how they were scoring. In the second half we were just getting stops … and pushing it into transition.”
This was an overall good first showing for the new Butler team. The potential on offense along with emphasis on defense should put the team in a good place to continue to improve during non-conference games. The next game is on Friday, Nov. 10 against Southeast Missouri State at 8:30 p.m. at Hinkle Fieldhouse.