The Butler Bulldogs may not have won, but they showed a lot of fight and toughness on Tuesday night–battling back from a 16 point deficit to just narrowly lose to the #11 Baylor Bears 52-53 in Waco, Texas.
Butler got off to a slow start and even trailed by 10 points at the half, but thanks to the sharp-shooting of senior wing Sean McDermott–who had 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-6 3 PT) and senior guard Kamar Baldwin’s overall play–who finished with 19 points (9-24 FG, 1-5 3 PT), the Bulldogs were able to hang around in the second half within striking distance.
Of course, it wasn’t just McDermott and Baldwin who kept Butler in this one, as their stingy defense helped anchor the Bulldogs spirited comeback attempt in the second half.
The Bulldogs held the Bears to just 6-27 (22.2%) from 3 point range and 21-60 (35.0%) from the field overall.
Butler just couldn’t quite get over the hump in this one though, as they never led in this game–and with 0:42 seconds left in the 2nd half, Baldwin was called for a controversial charge driving to the rim.
The Bulldogs got a defensive stop, but then Baldwin was blocked on his ensuing contested layup attempt–and that was pretty much it for this one.
Baylor is a tough matchup for Butler given their athleticism and length, and it showed quite a bit during Tuesday night’s game–as Butler was forced into tough shots offensively and at times, gave up more rebounds and second chance opportunities than they’re accustomed to surrendering this season.
Despite the tough loss, Butler actually climbed to #11 in the KenPom rankings–although they will assuredly drop a few spots in the AP Poll rankings when released next week.
This was a difficult test for the Bulldogs against a really good Baylor team on national television, and in my opinion, they exceeded reasonable expectations–even if they fell just short.
Make no mistake about it though, this year’s Bulldogs are for real and are a very talented team in their own right–holding their own against a tough Baylor team on the road.
The Bulldogs (9-1) will take on Southern University (3-6) next this Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse (12 PM EST) as a fine tuning before facing Purdue at the Crossroads Classic a week later.