18 point second half deficit for the Bulldogs? No problem. Butler rallied from behind for the second time in less than 48 hours to defeat the pesky Marquette Golden Eagles 88-80 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Freshman Markus Howard of Marquette led all scorers with 26 points. Kelan Martin scored 22 points to lead the Bulldogs. Kethan Savage, Kamar Baldwin, Andrew Chrabascz, and Tyler Lewis were all in double figures for Butler.
Player of the Game: Kamar Baldwin
Kamar Baldwin may only be a freshman, but it's time to start talking about him being the best player on this Butler roster right now. He was 8-13 from the floor for 18 points and 0 turnovers. He's also without a doubt the best perimeter defender on the roster and has a top 15 steal rate in the country. His pressure on the ball completely disrupted the Marquette offense in the 2nd half and fueled Butler's comeback. Kethan Savage (17 points, 4-6 shooting) and Kelan Martin (22 points, 9-14 shooting, 7 rebounds) also had performances that may have earned player of the game recognition on another night.
Huge Second Half
For the second consecutive game Butler responded to a poor first half with a monster second half. Coach Wojciechowski said after the game, "The way Butler answered adversity was to play better defense." That may be true, but it was an offensive explosion that ultimately won the game for the Bulldogs. They scored 63 points in the 2nd half and didn't turn the ball over a single time. Marquette simply couldn't contain the trio of Kethan Savage, Kelan Martin, and Kamar Baldwin attacking the rim off the dribble. Tyler Lewis will get overlooked because Kethan Savage was better, but Lewis had a fine game himself with 10 points and 3 assists. The ball still moves better with him running the point which opens up looks for the rest of the team.
Defending the Arc
Butler's streak of now 10 straight games of not allowing their opponent to shoot 40% or better from 3-point range remains intact, but it was a struggle today. Marquette got up 26 3-point attempts on the night, which is far too many for a team like Marquette that needs to be driven off the 3-point line. The defense certainly improved in the second half, but Butler gave Marquette opportunities to win this game from the 3-point line. They dodged a bullet because Marquette couldn't take advantage.
Two-Headed Point Guard
Butler has contrasting styles at the point guard position in Tyler Lewis and Kethan Savage. Coach Holtmann was able to use that weapon perfectly in the second half today. Butler's offense flowed seamlessly between the two. The Bulldogs only had 4 turnovers all day. It allows Holtmann to play matchups and dictate the style of game he wants to play. The Savage injury made it rough to get to this point, but with Kethan back to full strength this has to be what Holtmann had in mind when he brought these two players in to play at Hinkle.
Butler has several days off before they hit the road again to take on DePaul on Saturday. That's a must win game for a Big East contender. Butler will be double digit favorites, but keep in mind that DePaul gave Villanova a scare a few weeks ago and Butler hasn't played very well on the road. Nothing is ever easy in the Big East.