INDIANAPOLIS – The score might not say it all, but it says a bunch.
Butler 144, The Citadel 71.
For those who prefer their college basketball on the defensive side, now would be a good time to stop reading. What happened here Saturday night was not pretty. It’s not every day you see a team give up 71 points – and win by 73. The box score might just as well have been smoking.
It was, according to ESPN Stats, the most points for a Division I team against a Division I opponent since TCU waxed UT-Pan American 153-87, and that was 18 years ago.
There were 162 shots taken – or roughly one every 15 seconds.
Butler set a school mark for points in a half with 71 in the first 20 minutes. The old record had gone unmatched for 28 years. The new record lasted one hour. The Bulldogs scored 73 more in the second half. Butler had seven more assists (27) than The Citadel had field goals (20). Butler took only 14 more shots but had 36 more baskets. The Bulldogs outscored The Citadel in the paint – egads - 92-18. The rebound margin was 63-28, the assist differential 27-9.
``I’ve never played in anything like this, probably since we played in open gym,’’ Roosevelt Jones said after scoring 18 points, making him one of seven Butler players in double figures.
``Not even close,’’ agreed Kellen Dunham, who scored 22 of his 24 points in 14 minutes in the first half. ``I’d say the closest thing was probably an AAU game.’’
So what happened? Try this formula. Start with a new coach whose preferred style is to shoot quickly, pressure frantically, and put all the defensive marbles on forcing turnovers. That’s how Duggar Baucom’s VMI teams led the nation in scoring six of the past eight seasons.
Mix in players who are still trying to adjust to the system, with not enough time to do it before their first live test. When they didn’t force turnovers Saturday, there was hardly a soul back to protect the rim. Steal or bust.
Now add in a veteran and ranked team playing at home, with deft ballhandlers, capable passers and good shooters. Put all that together and what do you get?
Butler 144, The Citadel 77. Imagine layup, after layup, after layup. And if that all failed, an open jumper. The Bulldogs shot 63.6 percent, committed only 11 turnovers, and hit a rather pedestrian eight 3-pointers, not many for a team with 144 points on the board.
``The looks that they gave us, there was no need to try to slow it down and get a better look,’’ Dunham said, ``because they were kind of giving us the best look that we could get.’’
Butler had more points at halftime than the Bulldogs scored in 20 games last season.
``They won’t all be like that,’’ coach Chris Holtmann said. ``We spoke to our guys last week about how this may be one of the most unique games that they’ve ever played in.’’
``We’ll get better,’’ Baucom said. ``We have to learn from this.’