This one was over nearly before it began. Butler was up 8-0 by the first media timeout and it only got uglier from there. Butler led by as many as 40 points (58-18) before cruising to a 75-45 victory over the St. Louis Billikens at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Kelan Martin led Butler with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Kamar Baldwin was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 14 .
Butler's Defense Is Elite
Butler's defense is one of the best in the country, and it has been all year. The numbers don't show it right now because opponents were shooting 43% from 3 coming into this game. That's an aberration that won't continue all year long. Opponent's 3-point field goal percentage is mostly a random stat, and it hasn't gone Butler's way early. This afternoon we saw what happens when an offense doesn't shoot well against Butler. St. Louis shot only 21% from the arc and got absolutely nothing most of the night. They padded their stats well at the end of the game, scoring 22 points in the final 10 minutes to finish with 45 on the evening (St. Louis only played 8 players, opting not to use the end of their bench during the blowout). This one on of the most dominating defensive performances you'll see.
Butler's Offense Was Great
The final numbers certainly don't look spectacular. 75 points on 49% from the floor and 36% from deep. But those numbers are dragged way down by the play by the bench in the final 10 minutes. Butler had 60 points with 10 minutes left and scored only 15 points the rest of the way. In the first half Butler posted 42 points on 54% shooting from the floor. They were 6-13 from behind the arc and tallied 11 assists to only 5 turnovers. The ball movement was probably the best it's been all year.
St. Louis Is Awful
It's hard to know what to take away from this game. The Billikens aren't supposed to be a bad team. They beat otherwise undefeated Virginia Tech on a neutral court. The analytics say they are an average D1 team. I'm not sure there is a D1 team in the country they would have beaten tonight. Butler's defense was stifling and some shots finally fell on offense, but it's hard to know how to evaluate the Bulldogs' performance against a St. Louis team that didn't even bother to show up. Butler isn't as bad as they looked against Maryland or Texas, but they aren't as good as they looked tonight either.
Henry Baddley Flashing His Potential
Someone has to step up with Sean McDermott out. Tonight it was Henry Baddley filling in well. Baddley had 9 points and 7 rebounds on a perfect 2-2 from the floor and 4-4 from the line. He also had a block and a steal. His length and athleticism creates even more problems for offenses that already have to deal with Aaron Thompson and Kamar Baldwin out on the perimeter. Those 3 on the floor at the same time has to be one of the best perimeter defensive units in the country. The obvious weakness is lack of shooting, but Baddley actually knocked down his only attempt from there today. He's an outstanding offensive rebounder and that has been one of Butler's weakest areas so far this season.
Butler returns to action on Tuesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Utah, who will be looking to get revenge from their home loss to the Bulldogs last season. ButlerHoops.com will once again be on hand with full coverage.