Second half woes continue as Butler falls to No. 17 Creighton: Beyond the Box Score

Fifth-year center Jalen Thomas led the Bulldogs with 18 points. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.

Butler did not score for the last 5:39 minutes of play in a 79-57 loss to No. 17 Creighton. 

The first half was a completely different story. The Dawgs were up 35-34 going into halftime and were shooting 50% from the field. The offense was finding lanes to the basket and not forcing shots, while the defense played aggressive and held Creighton to just 18% from three

Creighton came out of halftime with adjustments that Butler could not respond to. The Dawgs only scored 22 points in the second half on an abysmal 31% from the field and 9% from three

Fifth-year center Jalen Thomas led Butler with 18 points and also grabbed five rebounds. Senior stand-out guard Baylor Scheierman put up 27 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. The guard played all 40 minutes for the Blue Jays. 

In a ugly loss for Butler, let’s go beyond the box score. 

What happened to the offense in the second half? 

Any offensive success Butler had in the first half was completely shut down in the second. Senior guard Posh Alexander was a perfect 6-6 from the field and 1-1 from three in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second. Head coach Thad Matta talked about his team’s shooting. 

“It seems like three-point shooting is contagious,” Matta said. “We’ve been knocked down over the course of games, but today was the first time we didn’t respond.” 

Butler also only shot one free throw in the second half. As the best free throw shooter in the nation, you probably want DJ Davis going to the line more than once. 

Junior guard Pierre Brooks has been on a noticeable cold streak lately and only scored two points against the Blue Jays. Matta said that Brooks needs to be playing better for the Dawgs to win. 

“Pierre has to play well for us, there’s no doubt about that,” Matta said. “We’ve got to get him back in check and get him playing well for us.” 

Transition defense and more turnovers 4

In the last four games, Butler has committed double digit turnovers. In this stretch, the Dawgs went 1-3 against UConn, Providence, Marquette and now Creighton. Butler ended with 11 against the Blue Jays, many of which led to fast breaks for Creighton. 

Butler’s transition defense was poor. Creighton scored 22 points off fast breaks compared to a mere two for Butler. The Dawgs’ inability to get down the floor and stop the fast break, along with their big turnover numbers is a recipe for disaster. Thomas acknowledged the correlation in the struggle of the team’s offense and defense. 

“[Creighton] is one of the best offenses in the country,” Thomas said. “When they are making shots and we can’t get a stop and we are not making shots, it’s going to go like it did today every time. We’ve got to be better.” 

As the season dwindles down, Butler only has five games left, three of which are on the road. The Dawgs will face off against Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul and Xavier all for the second time. These all feel like must-win games to build a resume for March. 


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