Number one no more; The Butler Bulldogs defeated the Villanova Wildcats Wednesday night by locking down on defense and winning the rebounding battle. This was the first loss for Villanova of the season bringing them to 14-1. Butler has won four straight games against ranked opponents, putting them at 13-2 on the season.
Despite their poor defense at the guard position (allowing Villanova sophomore Jalen Brunson to score a game high 23 points) Butler held the high powered lineup of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Brunson and company to only 58 points: their lowest of the season.
Kris Jenkins was held to 11 point in the contest and Villanova star Josh Hart was held to 13. The rest of the team scored 11 points.
Butler had four players in double figures and spread the scoring fairly evenly. Kethan Savage was a big offensive boost off the bench scoring 13 points despite fouling out.
In a turning point of the game, he hit technical free throws after Villanova coach Jay Wright had to be restrained by players and coaches after an apparently blown call. He also made a clutch steal and and-one layup to extend the lead to six points in the final minutes.
Kelan Martin was guarded heavily all night, in the Wildcat’s attempt to shut down the Dawgs’ main scoring options. He still put up 12 points and raked in 6 boards and didn’t force much, shooting 40% from the field.
In a back and forth game there are so many things that you have to do right, and Butler did them all.
The Dawgs turned the ball over only eight times the entire game: three of which coming from the heavily guarded Kelan Martin.
Butler also shot 100% from the free throw line going 15 for 15 from the stripe against Villanova.
Villanova was outrebounded by Butler 33-24. Rebounding is one of the best barometers of who will win in the game of basketball. This is especially impressive against the number one team in the country.
The achilles heel for the Wildcats has got to be their lack of depth. Only 7 players saw the floor for Nova. This kind of play has been done before (for example a very shallow Duke team) but rarely works unless you have multiple people who can score twenty or so a game. That wasn’t going to happen against this Butler team.
Butler plays at Georgetown this weekend coming off their big win against the defending champs. Look for them to pull out a massive win.
Photo Credit: Newsday.com