There aren't many ugly 21 point wins, but that's exactly what this was for Butler on Monday evening. The Bulldogs got off to slow starts in each half, including an 18-4 run by Detroit to open the second half and cut the Butler lead to only 4 points. Butler responded each time though, and eventually pulled away for an 84-63 victory behind a 26 point, 8 rebound, 6 assist performance by Kamar Baldwin. Brunk was in double figures for the second consecutive game with 13 and Jorgensen added an inefficient 12 points as the only other Bulldog in double figures.
Butler has 24 turnovers through 2 games, and 11 of those belong to Kamar Baldwin. Butler's star guard didn't have a turnover problem last year despite spending much of the season learning the point guard position, so this is a little surprising to start the year. Hopefully this is an anomaly and won't be a bigger issue moving forward. Another 6 turnovers belong to Thompson, who has had an outstanding start to the season otherwise. The rest of the team has taken excellent care of the basketball so there is reason to believe this can be a strength for the Bulldogs going forward.
You can't understand the impact Aaron Thompson has on the game simply by looking at the boxscore. He was a perfect 3-3 from the field, including a 3 pointer, but more important was the outstanding defense he played on Antoine Davis. Davis came in averaging 31 points a game on 55% shooting from inside the arc and 45% shooting behind it. Thompson and Baddley combined to hold him to only 7-21 shooting on the evening.
The big story of the game was Butler's difficulty handling the zone defense of Detroit. A big part of that was simply the inability to knock down 3 point shots. Butler shot 7-26 from distance, including 3-14 in the first half. Beyond the shooting though, Butler simply didn't look comfortable running a zone offense. Spacing was off in the middle and the guards were timid out on the perimeter. The offense eventually found success by feeding the post on the block against the spread out zone. Fowler and Brunk combined to score 22 points on 6-7 shooting from the floor and 10-12 shooting from the free throw line. Butler's post play was a major asset for the second straight game.
Great Way To Win
I'm sure the fans would have preferred not needing to sweat out a game in the second half against Detroit, but this will be great for Butler. It's great when the team can have a learning experience early while still pulling out a 21 point win. Coach Jordan will have plenty of film to pull from this one to take into a short week of practice before Butler takes on Mississippi in their final tune up game before heading off to play in the stacked Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.