Butler misses a resume-building chance against Marquette: Beyond the Box Score

First-year Finley Bizjack had 19 points in the loss versus Marquette. Photo by Andrew Buckley.


The men’s basketball team fell to No. 4 Marquette on Feb. 13 78-72. Despite playing in front of their home crowd, the Hinkle magic could not spur the Bulldogs to secure a win. 

Butler battled back and forth with the Golden Eagles through the first five minutes of the opening half but allowed Marquette to gain control after that and not look back. In a similar fashion to their loss at UConn, the Dawgs clawed back into the game time and time again just to watch the opposition push further in front. 

The Bulldogs trimmed the Golden Eagles’ lead to a mere two points with four minutes to go, only to watch Kam Jones bank in a three to put Marquette up again by five. Yet again, Butler cut the lead to three with under two minutes left, but Tyler Kolek hit a dagger triple to put the final nail in the Dawgs’ coffin. 

Butler’s surprise star of the night was first-year guard Finley Bizjack. Bizjack had 19 points and shot 50% from the field. Senior forward Pierre Brooks had 15 points in the Bulldogs’ losing effort as well. 

In another home game that went down to the wire, let’s go beyond the box score. 

Another game, more offensive miscues 

It was yet another “sloppy” performance on the offensive end by Butler with 14 turnovers on the night. This gave Marquette multiple extra possessions due to unforced errors gifted to them by the Bulldogs. 

“We were sloppy, and I think that was the difference,” head coach Thad Matta said. “We’ve just got to take care of the basketball and be a little bit sharper.” 

The difference Matta is talking about is obvious. Marquette had 15 points off of turnovers and eight fast break points. In a game where Butler only lost by six, those turnovers and extra possessions loomed large. 

The Dawgs will need to get to work before the Feb. 17 matchup with Creighton because the Bluejays like to go as fast as the Golden Eagles. 

“Creighton is another team that plays with extreme tempo,” Matta said. “We need to make shots. We did that in [the previous game versus Creighton]; we’re going to do it again here.” 

Getting battered down low 

Marquette won by attacking the interior of the Bulldogs’ defense all night long, and Butler did not have an answer. The Golden Eagles scored 59% of their total points in the paint and only shot 12 three-pointers all game. 

Kolek was the focal point of their offensive attack. Marquette would free Kolek on a screen to get him in the paint where he could knock down easy floaters. Kolek took only four shots from beyond the arc on a night where he torched the Dawgs with 27 points

“It’s difficult [to stop Kolek], but I’ve been preparing for it all week at practice,” Bizjack said. “I’ve got no excuses to not be able to stop him.” 

There was no singular player that allowed Kolek to explode on offense, but rather it was a matter of defensive switches that freed him up to get into the paint. Those picks and screens delayed the Bulldogs enough to allow Kolek and others to get around the corner and knock down open mid-range shots. 

“They went to a lot of middle pick-and-rolls, especially in the second half,” Matta said. “They made a couple of timely shots.” 

After the dust settles, this is not a back-breaking loss for the Bulldogs. Despite all the chatter around the Dawgs being a “tournament team,” Matta has one simple message. 

“March doesn’t matter if we don’t take care of February,” Matta said. “So we’ve got to do a better job.” 


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