Butler came, Butler saw, Butler conquered. The Dawgs came into the Pavilion in Philadelphia to complete the sweep of the defending champs in the same fashion that they beat them at home. Butler took control of the pace of the game and pulled away late in the second half to secure the win. Villanova took their first home loss since 2013.
Kelan Martin came off of the bench yet again to lead Butler offensively with 22 points. The newly appointed ‘6th man’ shot 64% in the game. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Martin played a key role defensively as well; his size and strength made him a key in stopping Nova. Over the course of the game, Martin guarded a variety of players, including Jenkins, Hart, and Brunson.
Kamar Baldwin was shining once again for Butler. The freshman guard scored 15 points, and defensively recorded a steal and a block. Baldwin did all this, despite fouling out before the final minutes.
Kethan Savaged fouled out in the final minutes of the game as well, but not before grabbing four steals for the dawgs.
Avery Woodson was an offensive force yet again, scoring 13 points and kept the Dawgs in the game, especially in the first half.
Butler’s offense thrived when they were working the ball inside. Post entries to big men Andrew Chrabascz and Nate Fowler opened up holes in Villanova’s defense and created offense for other players. Chrabascz alone recorded eight assists.
For Villanova, the usual suspects were hitting on the offensive end. Jalen Brunson scored a game high 24 points on 69% shooting. Butler simply cannot stop him from scoring. But he also had five turnovers, which was a dagger to Nova’s offensive game.
Josh Hart started out slow but hit what seemed like every three late in the game for the Wildcats. The star scorer shot 40% from three in the game, draining four long balls and finishing with 18 points.
In a game with 31 combined turnovers (uncharacteristic of both teams) defense won it for Butler. The Dawgs held the defending champs to just 66 points (12 less than their season average), and forced 15 turnovers (four more than their season average). Nova finished the game shooting just 25% from deep, rough compared to Butler’s 40% from three.
This is yet another huge with to add to Butler’s long list of impressive victories on the season- perhaps even their best win of the season. Coming up for the Dawgs, they take on rival Xavier in Cincinnati, and then end the regular season at home against Seton Hall. Butler is now looking at a very real possibility of winning out to finish the season.
Player of the Game:
Kelan Martin was back to his prime from, shooting the ball well from three, making solid shot selections, and rebounding with the best of them. Without his performance tonight, Butler is looking at a big fat L at the hands of the Wildcats. But with his performance tonight, the Dawgs are celebrating.
Photo Credit: Newsday.com