The #13 Butler Bulldogs lost their third straight Big East game, only this time on the road at #9 Villanova, 76-61.
For what it’s worth, the Bulldogs came out stronger on the road than the team previously showed against DePaul this past Saturday.
However, while the Bulldogs played well enough to make this game competitive, they didn’t shoot nearly well enough to win it.
The Bulldogs shot just 25% (5-20) from 3 point range.
In particular, senior wing Sean McDermott seemed to really struggle shooting the ball on Tuesday night, as he was 0-7 from the 3 point line (and 1-11 from FG).
Also hurting Butler’s chances of winning was the free throw disparity between both teams. The Bulldogs got to the free throw line a mere 8 times (4-8 from FT), while Villanova made a living, getting 23 freebie attempts–shooting a blistering hot 91.3% (21-23 FT).
Butler was also outrebounded 43 to 37 total rebounds–which didn’t help matters.
Butler did cut down on its turnovers, committing only 5 team turnovers.
However, for every run the Bulldogs made, they couldn’t seem to get over the hump and actually take the lead–seemingly cooling off from the field every time Villanova’s lead was starting to get cut increasingly thin.
Shooting guard Kamar Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 21 points (9-21 FG), 2 rebounds, and an assist.
Butler received improved performances from its starting frontcourt–which had been slumping as of late, as power forward Bryce Nze added 11 points (5-7 FG), 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, while center Bryce Golden chipped in 11 points (5-6 FG), 2 rebounds, and 2 steals.
As a result of their latest loss, the #13 Bulldogs dropped to 15-4 (and 3-3 in Big East conference play). They are now #15 in the KenPom rankings.
The sky isn’t falling, as even though Butler is on a 3-game losing streak, two of its losses were to really good ranked teams (Seton Hall and Villanova) that may be arguably better at this juncture of the season.
The DePaul loss is what really hurts Butler, but it’s something that the Bulldogs will have to simply get over quickly, as it’s “sink or swim” time now for them in Big East play.
The Bulldogs really have to end this recent 3-game losing skid, but they’ll have another tough challenge against reigning Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard‘s Marquette Golden Eagles (13-5, 3-3 Big East) this Friday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 9 PM EST (FS1).