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Butler Splits 2-Game Road Trip, Picking Up a Big Win In the Process

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This past week, the Butler Men’s Basketball team played two crucial road games in the heart of Big East play. On Friday Night, the Bulldogs pulled out an impressive 99-98 victory over the #13 ranked Creighton Blue Jays, but suffered a tough 71-62 defeat at the hands of the #1 ranked UConn Huskies. 

 

Butler @ #13 Creighton 

When the Bulldogs and Blue Jays tipped off at approximately 9:00 on Friday Night, neither team was prepared for the nearly two and a half hour marathon that would ensue. Butler jumped out to a 29-25 lead after making six of their first nine field goal attempts to start the game, including three makes from Northeastern transfer Jahmyl Telfort in the first 6:08 accounting for eight of his 26 points. Following a pair of 7-0 runs by Creighton, the Bulldogs found themselves down 47-37 with 2:17 remaining in the first half. Creighton’s ten point lead was the largest in the game for either team. Butler hit a pair of threes to close out the half, including a 30-foot heave from freshman Finley Bizjack at the buzzer, to cut the lead to four going into halftime. Bizjack finished with 11 points in the game, his second best scoring output of the season. Creighton shot 61% from the field in the first half and were led by Baylor Scheierman’s 17 first half points. 

Butler came out hot to start the second half, hitting five of their first six shots. A three pointer from freshman Boden Kapke capped off a 15-7 run for the Bulldogs to take a 60-56 lead less than four minutes into the second half. What followed was a second half that might go down in the history books for both schools. Butler shot 62.5% in the second half, connecting on 20 of their 32 field goal attempts and scored on 25 of their 35 second half possessions. Creighton’s final lead of the game came after junior Trey Alexander made a layup to put the Blue Jays up 68-67 with 12:15 remaining. After Butler retook the lead with a Bizjack layup, Creighton tied the game three more total times and climbed within one point eight different times, including four times in the final 2:11, but the Bulldogs did not trail after the Bizjack layup. The Bulldogs’ biggest lead of the second half came after UC Irvine transfer DJ Davis connected on his second three of the game with 6:14 left in the game, they led 87-82. Davis scored 22 points on eight of 12 shooting, including three 3s. 

The final minute and ten seconds took 22 minutes of real time. Between nine combined free throws, two combined timeouts and multiple reviews for flagrant foul and clock checks the game ended up feeling like an eternity for Butler fans. With six seconds left and the Bulldogs leading by one, Francisco Farabello fouled DJ Davis, but the refs reviewed for a flagrant after Davis was hit in the face by Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner. There was no flagrant call, but Davis was unable to shoot his free throws, so the Bulldogs subbed in Boden Kapke and sent him to the line for Davis. Kapke drilled both free throws; he scored eight points in the game. After a quick foul and two free throws for Alexander, the Bulldogs failed to inbound the ball and turned it over but Landon Moore swiped the ball away and forced a held ball. With the possession arrow pointing Creighton’s way and half a second on the clock, the Blue Jays attempted a lob to Kalkbrenner on the inbound and Moore disrupted it to secure the Butler victory. 

 

Butler @ #1 UConn

Riding high after the win at Creighton, the Bulldogs went back on the road to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the number one ranked UConn Huskies. The Bulldogs kept the game close early, trailing by only three after Jalen Thomas made two free throws out of the under-8 minute timeout of the first half. The Huskies, however, would go on an 11-2 run over the next 3:18 to take a 30-18 lead over the Bulldogs. With the Bulldogs down by 11, DJ Davis hit a buzzer beater to end the half and bring the Bulldogs back to within eight going to the locker room. Davis scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, including the final nine points of the frame for Butler. 

Davis then scored the first five points of the second half to get the Bulldogs back within three points at 35-32. UConn was able to keep Butler at arm’s length for the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs climbed within five points just twice for the rest of the game before falling 71-62. Once with 11:11 left in the game after a putback dunk from Bucknell transfer Andre Screen and the other time with 2:30 remaining after a three pointer from Pierre Brooks. Brooks scored five points in the contest, his only game so far this season scoring less than 10 points. In the game, Butler point guard Posh Alexander recorded his 500th career assist. Alexander recorded his first 391 career assists for Butler’s Big East rival, St. John’s. Alexander has 113 assists in 22 games for Butler this year, 46 shy of the career high he set in the 2021-22 season. 

 

What This Means For Butler

If you’re a Butler fan you should be happy with the team’s performance over the last two games. The Bulldogs’ win at Creighton was their first win in Omaha since 2015. It was also their second road win against an AP Poll top-15 opponent (their first was Jan. 10 @ Marquette) this season. The road win at Creighton had massive implications for Butler’s chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, with several bracketologists moving Butler to the right side of the bubble, on the inside of the bracket. The loss against UConn doesn’t hurt Butler, losing to one of the best teams in the country on the road would never hurt a team. In fact, keeping the game somewhat close put some of the college basketball world on notice that the Bulldogs are not a pushover in the Big East and should be heavily considered for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Butler’s record currently sits at 15-8 overall and 6-6 in Big East play. They will have a big chance to prove themselves once again as they take on Providence on Saturday, February 10th at 2:00 pm.