Senior Jahmyl Telfort put up 16 points in UConn’s win over Butler on Jan. 5. Photo by Jonothan Wang.
SARAH HOHMAN | SPORTS EDITOR | email@example.com
Men’s basketball is coming off a road upset over No. 13 Creighton on Feb. 2. The team also found victory over No. 9 Marquette on their home court on Jan. 10. These two upsets prove the Dawgs have a good chance when they face the number one team in the country.
The last time the Bulldogs faced the Huskies was at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 5. This was an incredibly close game throughout and Butler even had the lead at half, but UConn outplayed the Dawgs in the second half and won 88-81. Despite the loss, this match proved that Butler could compete with the big dogs, and they later proved this with upsets over Creighton and Marquette.
So, what are the key factors that allow Butler to beat ranked teams on the road?
Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday night’s game against UConn.
Who: Butler at UConn
When: Feb. 6, 8:30 p.m.
Where: XL Center
How to watch/listen: FS1, WXNT 1430 AM
Three point shooting
In the road games against Creighton and Marquette, the Dawgs were incredibly accurate from three. Against Creighton, Butler shot a remarkable 59.1% from behind the arc and 45.5% against Marquette. In each game they made at least 10 threes. The long ball was the difference between a close loss and a win for these games, especially in clutch moments.
Against UConn on Jan. 5, Butler shot 47.1% and held the Huskies to 38.5% throughout the game. Although they outshot the Huskies from deep, UConn came out stronger than the Dawgs in the second half.
Key to staying in the game
The problem with Butler’s first matchup with UConn was their consistency. The Dawgs held a seven point lead at halftime, but were down one with 15 minutes left in the second half.
Lately, the Bulldogs seem to be more of a second half team. Against both Creighton and Marquette, Butler was down by at least four at halftime. They would then push to come back and eventually win — which is even harder to do on the road. Against Villanova at home, Butler was down nine, but came back to win 88-81.
So, what has helped the Dawgs come back in these games?
The bench. The Bulldogs have proved to have strong depth in these last few games. The young guys in Finley Bizjack, Landon Moore and Boden Kapke have taken advantage of their playing time, especially with senior guard Posh Alexander out. There has been no update on the guard since he sat out against Creighton.
Senior forward Jahmyl Telfort and senior guard DJ Davis have been on their game. The two starters went through a rough shooting patch, but have completely turned it around. Telfort and Davis led the team against Creighton with 26 points and 22 points, respectively. The two were pretty beat up throughout the game, so hopefully the few days off gave them a chance to rest and recover.
UConn is coming off their 10th straight win. They beat St. John’s 77-64 on the road thanks to a huge second half. They trailed by one at half, but brought out a more intense defense and hit clutch shots to seal a double-digit victory.
The Huskies have a blossoming first-year guard in Stephon Castle, who just won his sixth Big East Freshman of the Week honor. Castle is coming off his first two 20-point games against Providence and St. John’s.
This team is so well-rounded, with contributions from everyone from redshirt sophomore forward Alex Karaben to graduate guard Cam Spencer. This is going to be a tough one, but if Butler stays in the game and focuses on one half at a time, an upset is possible. The second half is key, and the Dawgs have proved that they can bring intensity on the road in the final minutes.