Butler vs. Seton Hall: Beyond the box score

Kamar Baldwin calls out a play. Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 32 points in the win over Seton Hall. Collegian file photo. 

JOSHUA DOERING | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | jdoering@butler.edu

The Butler men’s basketball team edged Seton Hall, 75-74, in a Big East Tournament instant classic. Butler trailed for nearly 37 minutes but rallied to take the lead on Tyler Wideman’s put-back with four seconds left. At this point in the season, it’s all about surviving and advancing, which is exactly what the Bulldogs did. They will face Villanova in the second semifinal game tomorrow night. Here are three takeaways from an incredible game.

1. The 3-point line was Butler’s enemy once again.

The Bulldogs missed their first seven shots from deep and shot 21 percent from three in the first half. Seton Hall, on the other hand, connected on seven of their nine 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. Give the Pirates credit for making shots, but the Bulldogs’ perimeter defense was nowhere near good enough against such a dangerous opponent. There were late rotations and hands that didn’t get up fast enough to impact the shot.

Seton Hall outscored Butler by nine points from beyond the arc despite taking eight fewer attempts. While the Bulldogs did a better job defending Angel Delgado the third time around, they sacrificed the 3-point line in the process. Delgado only had 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting, nowhere near the numbers he posted in the team’s previous two meetings. In the end though, the Pirates were able to trade Delgado’s twos for threes and Butler paid the price.

2. Kamar Baldwin came to play.

Baldwin could not have picked a better game to snap out of his recent slump. Kelan Martin struggled to make his presence felt, shooting 35 percent from the floor and going 1-for-8 from deep. Butler would have been in big trouble without Baldwin’s magnificent performance. The sophomore scored eight straight points for the Bulldogs in the first half and had a streak of 11 consecutive Butler points in the second half.

Under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, Baldwin dropped 32 points on 60 percent shooting, a dominant and incredibly efficient performance. Whenever things looked in danger of getting out of hand, Baldwin made a play and put this team on his back. This version of Butler’s second-leading scorer is a great sign moving forward. If the Bulldogs are going to make some noise in March Madness, Baldwin and Martin both need to be at their best. Baldwin definitely was against the Pirates.

3. The Butler Bulldogs are going dancing.

The Bulldogs found a way to win, which is all that matters in March. With this victory, Butler’s spot in the NCAA Tournament is as close to guaranteed as it can be. Any concerns about the Bulldogs being a bubble team can finally be put to rest. The question now becomes how much Butler can help their resume as they continue in the Big East Tournament. Another game against Villanova is the perfect place to start.

This was a massive, massive win for multiple reasons. Butler finally got the first Big East Tournament victory in program history, shaking off the disappointments of the past four trips to New York. More importantly, to win in that fashion does wonders for a team’s confidence and momentum. This game very well might have changed the fate of the rest of Butler’s season. It means that much.

 

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