The Bulldogs travel down to Orlando, Florida to take part in the ESPN Events Invitational. Photo by Grace Hensley.
CALEB DENORME | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming off a loss to Michigan State (MSU) on Nov. 17, the men’s basketball team heads down to Orlando to take part in the ESPN Events Invitational. The first matchup of the tournament sets the Bulldogs on a crash course with Florida Atlantic (FAU).
The Dawgs sit at 3-1 on the year following three home wins and their road loss to the Spartans. The game up in East Lansing showcased a tough shooting night for Butler, with the squad only shooting 28.8% from the field. Senior forward Jahmyl Telfort shouldered most of the offensive burden, scoring 15 points on a night to forget for the Bulldogs.
Butler now shifts their focus to the Owls of FAU, a strong squad that made a run to the Final Four in last season’s NCAA Tournament. This will be yet another test for the Dawgs to see if they can compete with some of the elite programs in the country.
Here is what you need to know as Butler matches up against FAU.
Who: Butler vs. Florida Atlantic
When: Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m.
Where: 2023 ESPN Events Invitational, Orlando, Florida
How to watch/listen: ESPN 2, WXNT 1430 AM
Getting the offense back on the right track
The Bulldogs had their worst shooting night of the 2023-24 season on Nov. 17 against Michigan State. Butler had multiple miscues on the offensive end. They were missing layups, turning the ball over and not generating good shots for each other. This led to a 20 point loss in the first game of what will be a tough stretch for this squad.
Before the MSU game, Butler was averaging 86.67 points per game on 50.1% shooting from the field. Against the Spartans they scored 54 points and shot 28.8%. These bad offensive games will happen, especially against a team with the quality of Michigan State, but the Bulldogs have to turn around quickly. FAU is returning most of the squad that went to the Final Four last year, so this game will test if the Dawgs are on the same level as tournament teams.
The bright spot for Butler is their defense. The Bulldogs rank 13th in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 58 points per game. They will have to lean on their defensive resilience while they work out the offensive kinks if they want to have a good showing in this early season tournament.
FAU scouting report
Florida Atlantic is a part of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and currently are 2-1 on the year. They opened up their campaign with wins over Loyola Chicago and Eastern Michigan before falling to Bryant 61-52. This dropped the Owls to No. 19 in the national rankings going into the game against Butler.
FAU went 35-4 last season, winning the Conference USA Championship before they moved to the AAC in the summer of 2023. The Owls then went on a run to the NCAA Final Four where they got knocked out by eventual runner-up San Diego State.
The key player for Florida Atlantic is senior center Vladislav Goldin. Goldin, a 7’1” big man from Russia, is averaging 15 points per game and was a huge part of the Owls run to the Final Four last season. He is shooting 63% from the field, so look for that matchup down low with Butler’s rotation of centers.
FAU is a team that relies heavily on three point shooting, with 42.2% of the Owl’s shots coming from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs will have to defend the perimeter quickly and box out Goldin to eliminate second chance points and keep the game close.
The Dawgs and Owls are both coming off of losses that they want to put in the rearview mirror, so both teams will be looking to pick up a quality win. For Butler, this is a great opportunity to get the season back on track and pick up a strong victory over a very good team.