Butler closed out the Battle 4 Atlantis with their top performance on the young season, defeating Florida 61-54 to move to 5-1 on the year. Butler's elite defensive effort carried the team while the dynamic duo of Paul Jorgensen and Kamar Baldwin provided enough offense to propel Butler past the Gators. Baldwin led all scorers with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists while Jorgensen scored 16 points and grabbed a game high 7 rebounds.
1,000 Points for Baldwin
Baldwin's 19 points on 7-17 shooting pushed him over 1,000 points for his Butler career. He's going to challenge Chad Tucker's all time school scoring record by the time his career is up. Baldwin really struggled early in the game and his shot wasn't there for most of the night (1-6 from 3 point range). When crunch time came around though, Baldwin once again made the plays a super star needs to make. Baldwin had several buckets that Florida head coach Mike White described as "backbreaking". He had a stretch midway through the 2nd half where he scored 9 of Butler's 11 points as the Bulldogs went on their run to build up a lead they would never relinquish.
Lock Down Defense
This is the defense we thought we would see from the Bulldogs this season. Butler turned in their best defensive performance of the season, and kicked it up into high gear when they had to get stops down the stretch. Florida scored only 9 points in the final 11:14 of the game, allowing Butler to grab the second half lead and then hang on for dear life towards the end. Butler didn't hit a shot from the field the final 4:35 of the game, but the defense held up under the pressure. Every time it felt like Florida revved up their intensity to make a final push the Bulldog defense refused to bend. Butler held the Gators to only 35% shooting for the game and gave them absolutely nothing easy for most of the night. If Butler can bring this type of defense night in and night out they will contend for a Big East title.
Big Second Half From Jorgensen
It's a common saying that shooters need a short memory. Paul Jorgensen has no problems there. Jorgensen had a forgettable first half, shooting 1-5 from the floor for 3 points, including blowing a wide open fast break layup opportunity. He came out firing in the second half though to the tune of 12 points on 5-7 shooting. Jorgensen's play helped spark a stagnant Butler offense and fired up the defense. Overall he finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds for yet another terrific outing. He's established himself as a bona fide second scorer to pair with Kamar Baldwin.
Butler's Bigs Are Who We Thought They Were
The story early on was the surprising play of Butler's big men, particularly sophomore Joey Brunk. It looked like not only would the position not be a weakness, but it could possibly be a strength. A few games deeper into the season and it looks like the excitement may have been a bit premature. Brunk has absolutely made great strides and is deserving of his minutes, but it doesn't look like he's going to be a reliable third scoring option against Big East caliber competition. Fowler continues to be effective yet frustrating at times as he continues his reign on the message board as Butler's most polarizing player. Butler is going to get enough to survive out of the center position, but it's going to have to be the perimeter that carries the Bulldogs. Those perimeter players can't abandon the post though, and they need to allow both Brunk and Fowler to be opportunistic scorers and feed them the ball when they find themselves in quality scoring positions.
Successful Atlantis Trip
The loss to Dayton absolutely stings, even though Dayton will challenge for the A10 title, but this victory makes it a successful trip overall for the Bulldogs. They finish 2-1 in the Bahamas and add a quality neutral site victory over Florida to their resume. Butler entered the tournament 32nd in the country in the KenPom ratings and will leave 29th, solidifying Butler's status as an NCAA tournament quality team. Only Villanova has a better KenPom rating in the Big East at #15. It's going to be a dogfight once conference play rolls around and Butler should be right there in the thick of things.