Men’s basketball collapses against Villanova: Beyond the Box Score

Senior forward Jahmyl Telfort scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 40 minutes against Villanova. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.


Butler lost their third-straight game on Feb. 20, falling 72-62 to Villanova. It is yet another back-breaking loss for a team who has aspirations beyond the Big East Tournament. The loss drops the Bulldogs to 16-11 on the season and 7-9 in conference play

The Dawgs went back and forth with the Wildcats at the start of the game, but fell behind after Tyler Burton hit a triple with 7:35 left in the first half. From there, Villanova did not look back. Butler was not able to grab a lead for the rest of the contest, ultimately plagued by poor shooting in the second half. 

Senior forward Jahmyl Telfort was the leader on the night for the Bulldogs, playing all 40 minutes and pouring in 19 points. Telfort also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Senior guard Posh Alexander also had a big night, scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds

Villanova ended up with revenge though. The Wildcats took their chances, forcing Butler into a hole and never letting up from there. It’s a massive blow to the Dawgs as they continue to drop in the conference standings just weeks ahead of the Big East Tournament. 

In another crushing loss for the Bulldogs, let’s go beyond the box score. 

Red-hot first half 

Both teams lit it up in the first half on the offensive end. Butler shot 51.9% from the field and 58.3% from three, while Villanova shot 60.7% on the half and 50% from beyond the arc

Despite the strong shooting from the Wildcats, the Dawgs were able to hang around for a bit, spurred on by Alexander’s 12 points in the first half. Many would think that shooting over 50% from the field would allow a team to build a lead, but that was not the case. 

Butler’s inability to generate stops and play tough defense in the first half is what allowed Villanova to build a nine point lead at halftime. The defensive performance in the first 20 minutes was an indication of what was to come for the Bulldogs, in what is yet another dismal loss. 

Yet again, defense seems to be Butler’s Achilles’ heel. Electric offensive play and efficiency seem to be canceled out by defensive inadequacy, which has become the story of the Bulldogs’ season. 

Same old story 

This is the second-straight game for Butler where the team has gone into the locker room at halftime and come back out like a completely different squad. When their shooting floundered in the second half, their weaknesses became more visible. 

The season-long theme of poor rebounding was showcased yet again in Finneran Pavilion. By the time the final buzzer sounded Butler had been outrebounded by 17. Villanova pulled down 37 boards, while the Bulldogs only managed to snag 20. 

Another catalyst of this second half collapse was the Dawgs’ inability to capitalize when the Wildcats missed shots. Villanova only shot 34.8% in the second half, which could have opened the door for Butler to get back into the game. 

The turning point came with 4:20 to go in the second half. Telfort splashed a three to cut Nova’s lead to six, setting up an avenue for the Bulldogs to make a run and try to win the game. From there, Butler could not generate the stops they needed to cut further into the lead. 

In a game the Dawgs almost had to win, they came up short again due to the same errors that have plagued them all season. With four games to go, Butler will have to be flawless to stay in the NCAA Tournament conversation and climb the Big East standings. 


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