The Butler Bulldogs had gotten the best of the Villanova Wildcats each of their last three matchups. Both teams were coming off tough losses on their home courts. The Bulldogs to #5 Xavier in overtime on Tuesday, and the Wildcats to St. John’s on Wednesday. In the end, #1 Villanova, a team that has not lost back-to-back games in five years, came out on top with the 86-75 victory.
SECOND HALF ADJUSTMENTS
The Bulldogs came out of the locker room in the first half and shot the lights out. The Dawgs hit at a 54 percent mark from deep and a 56 percent clip overall. Kelan Martin, as he so often does, carried the team, putting up 17 points on six-for-eight shooting including five-of-six from three-point range. Nate Fowler also had an important first half, putting up eight points on four-of-six shooting. Villanova went into the locker room at the half down 38-35 and knew they had to do something about Kelan Martin. The Wildcats went on a 22-4 scoring run to end the first half and begin the second half and that gave them a lead they would not relinquish. Kelan Martin was held scoreless for the first eight minutes of the second half and the Bulldogs only scored six points while he was stifled offensively.
NO THIRD OPTION
As great as Martin and Kamar Baldwin are, they can’t win games all by themselves. They each had fantastic individual performances this afternoon. Martin ended up with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including eight-for-12 from beyond the arc. Baldwin put up 25 points on eight-for-14 shooting. The other six Bulldogs that saw action today combined for just 20 points. As was previously mentioned, Fowler had eight points in the first half. He was held scoreless in the second half and only took one shot. After his nearly perfect night on Tuesday against Xavier, Sean McDermott only went one-for-four from three-point range. Paul Jorgensen’s struggles continued shooting the ball, going one-for-six from deep, however he contributed six rebounds and seven assists, both team highs. In order to beat a team like Villanova on their home court, Butler needed a third scoring option, and they didn’t have one this afternoon.
‘NOVA IS A GOOD BASKETBALL TEAM
It’s as simple as that. They are the top-ranked team in the country for a reason. Even with a short bench, the Wildcats played smart, disciplined basketball. Butler’s defense had shut down Shamorie Ponds, Markus Howard, and Andrew Rowsey in previous Big East games. However, none of those are national player of the year candidate, Jalen Brunson. He put up 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, and that didn’t even lead the team. That title goes to Donte DiVincenzo who put up a career-high 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Omari Spellman and Mikal Bridges had 10 points each to put four Wildcats in double figures. That’s what the Bulldogs were missing today.
The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for their next three games. On Tuesday, they host the Georgetown Hoyas who the Bulldogs beat in their Big East opener 91-89 in double overtime.