Postgame: Butler takes down #1 Villanova 101-93
Butler’s offensive explosion propels them to their first victory against a ranked opponent this season. And what a way to close out 2017. Over the past calendar year, Butler has defeated a ranked Villanova three times, and will hope to continue to be the Wildcats’ kryptonite in the new year. New head coach LaVall Jordan has once again impressed, and Butler is rolling.
The Bulldogs shot an insane 60% from the field and 68% from three in the game. It felt like every three Butler took was finding the bottom of the net; at one point Butler guard Paul Jorgensen was pushing the ball up the floor in transition and launched a heat check from the Butler Bulldog logo just beyond half court that hit nothing but net. Jorgensen finished shooting 4-7 from three and with 23 points in the contest.
Kelan Martin, the star senior forward for the Dawgs, had been having a rough season from beyond the arc thus far, but broke out of his slump in this game, shooting 4-4 from long range. Martin finished with 24 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin was all over the court in this game. He finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He also was tasked with guarding Villanova’s star point guard Jalen Brunson, and grabbed two steals while doing so. Despite the pressure from Baldwin, Brunson led all scorers in the game with 31 points.
Mikal Bridges also had a big game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, especially in the first half, knocking down threes and catching lobs for easy dunks. Bridges finished with 21 points, three assists and three steals.
Villanova, despite the loss, played a fantastic offensive game, hanging 93 points on a good defensive team. Their downfall was on the other end of the floor; it is hard to win a game when you give up 101 points.
Late in the game the Wildcats broke out a full court press that really bothered Butler, and it helped them cut, what was at one point in the second half, a 21 point lead down to seven. But it was too little too late, and Butler held on to seal the victory.
Call it a fluke, call it Hinkle magic. Butler’s offense was the best we have seen it all year; perhaps out of any team in college basketball. Regardless of the cause, Butler now has a massive win under their belts, and with their next game at #6 Xavier (Who will likely be ranked higher in the start of 2018 with Villanova and Texas A&M losing yesterday). Butler is in position to not only be a NCAA tournament lock, but a top 10 team in the nation. Go Dawgs.
Player of the game:
Paul Jorgensen absolutely exploded in the first half, and his transition three from the Butler logo seemed to cement a Butler victory early on in the game. The transfer guard from George Washington has fit seamlessly into coach Jordan’s system and into the Butler culture. Keep an eye on him in the future to provide leadership and big shots throughout Big East play.
Photo credit: SI.com