The Butler Bulldogs defeated the Creighton Blue Jays 71-57 at a sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon, improving to 14-1 on the season and 2-0 in Big East Conference play.
McDermott continued his highly efficient offensive play for the game’s entirety, scoring 18 points (7-11 FG, 3-7 3 PT) to go along with 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Baldwin had a poor first half, shooting 0-9 from the field and having 0 points. Still, the Bulldogs led 34-24 at the end of one half, which was encouraging given their leading scorer’s shooting struggles.
Baldwin caught fire in the second half, hitting 7 of his next 13 shots and scoring all 20 of his points–including 9 of Butler’s last 14 points as “the closer“.
Otherwise, the Bulldogs got a big lift from their backup 7 foot center Derrik Smits, who came in around the 13:00 minute mark in the first half and hit three straight field goals for Butler–and capped it off with a nice assist from the low post to reserve wing Henry Baddley for an easy dunk.
Aaron Thompson was steady at point guard once again, scoring 10 points (5-9 FG), 2 assists, and 4 rebounds–and even though he’s shown a reluctance to shoot the outside shot (and defenders sag off of him), he found a way to attack the paint with floaters–when given too much space to work with.
The Bulldogs got another “blue collar” effort from starting power forward Bryce Nze in the paint, who finished with 9 points (3-5 FG) and 7 rebounds.
His starting frontcourt partner Bryce Golden was relatively quiet with 0 points and 2 rebounds, but still did a lot of the unglamorous dirty work for Butler in the middle.
Junior wing Jordan Tucker gave Butler a big lift offensively off the bench (6 points and 5 rebounds), as he played a lot as a stretch four in this one with Nze at center–when Butler went small, as Butler’s backup defensive four, Christian David, only played in 5 minutes of action because of foul trouble–having picked up 3 early fouls.
Tucker has been a consistent outside shooter for Butler and really helps spread the floor as their “6th man” so far this season.
On the other side, the Bulldogs defense was once again stellar.
They held the Blue Jays to 21-54 (38.9% from FG) and 4-22 (18.2%) from 3 point range.
The Blue Jays scored just 7 points in the final 6:32 of the second half–which allowed Butler to pull away for good (and one of those field goals was a made three point shot with 18 seconds left with the game already well decided.)
Their defense helped Butler win the turnover battle, 13 to 7 as well, and the Bulldogs outrebounded Creighton 36 to 31 on the glass.
The #11 Bulldogs jumped to #5 in the most recent KenPom rankings and are pretty much a guarantee to jump into the AP’s Top 10 when the new poll is released next week.
Butler takes on Providence (9-6) on the road in Rhode Island next Friday (FS1) at 9 PM EST–in what should be another tough game.