[Photo Credit: Jimmy Lafakis (@JJLII30)]
Another season, another Crossroads Classic victory for the Bulldogs. Butler knocked off Indiana 83-78 as the Bulldogs picked up their 2nd victory in 3 tries against the Hoosiers in the Crossroads Classic. Kelan Martin led all scorers with 28 points on 9-16 shooting. Freshman Kamar Baldwin got his 2nd career start and had 14 points and 5 rebounds. Senior Andrew Chrabascz also scored 14 points and added 4 assists.
Butler is the best in the state
The Bulldogs are now 5-1 in the Crossroads Classic and are the only school with a winning record. They have dominated the event, recording 3 wins against opponents ranked inside the top 10 (Indiana twice, Purdue once). Butler has been so good that many Indiana and Purdue fans are ready to end the series. Luckily the event is scheduled through 2019. The Bulldogs certainly have bragging rights for the foreseeable future.
Kethan Savage Finally Contributed
I won't say this is the Kethan Savage Butler has been waiting on, but he was much improved today. Tyler Lewis got into foul trouble in the first half and Savage got extended minutes. He delivered. The transfer senior scored 6 points off the bench, didn't turn the ball over, and helped to maintain the lead. There were still some issues but after being slowed by injuries and illness to start the season, this was an excellent sign for Butler.
Turnovers vs Offensive Rebounds
My key stat heading into this game was turnover margin vs offensive rebounding margin. It seemed a given that IU would win the boards and Butler would win the takeaways. Which team would win out though and get up more shots? It turned out to be pretty balanced. Butler was woeful on the glass, rebounding only 59% of Indiana's misses. That led to a +8 advantage for Indiana in offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs did get those possessions back in the turnover department though, where they forced Indiana into over twice as many turnovers (13-6). With shot attempts being nearly identical, the difference in the game came down to 3 point percentage. Both teams took 21 shots from behind the arc, but Butler connected on 10 compared to 6 for Indiana.
Kelan Martin can take this team deep in March
The secondary pieces are all there. Butler has a fringe top 25 defense. There is balanced scoring and versatility throughout the rest of the roster. They don't need Kelan to be dominant like this, but when Martin is scoring 20+ points a night with outstanding efficiency it's going to be a tall task to take down the Bulldogs. He's the type of scorer than can get hot and carry a team deep in March. That's getting well ahead of ourselves, but my point is simple. We could be witnessing a special Butler team this season.
Assist:Turnover topped 2:1
Yes, I'm repeating word for word a same key point from the win over Cincinnati. But it's that important. Butler's offense is one of the best in the country when they move the ball well. Indiana ranked 32nd in the country before the game in assists allowed defensively, yet Butler still put up an assist to turnover ratio of 2.3:1. Lewis was once again a wizard running the offense, posting 6 assists without a single turnover. His assist to turnover ratio is now over 4:1 and he ranks 37th in the country in assist rate (8th among high major conference teams).
The Butler Bulldogs now boast one of the most impressive tournament resumes in the country. They have neutral court wins over Indiana and Arizona, home wins against Cincinnati and Northwestern, and a road win against Utah. There is still a lot of work left to be done, but Butler has put themselves in an excellent spot with conference play just around the corner. The Bulldogs will get a very solid Vermont squad on Wednesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse with a chance to close out the nonconference with an 11-1 record.