INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Thomas and Jehmyl Telfort had 18 points apiece as the Butler Bulldogs lifted themselves over Buffalo Tuesday evening inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Despite a slow start to the game, the Bulldogs took down the Bulls 72-59. Head coach Thad Matta was not pleased with his team’s performance.
“We were not very good tonight,” Matta said. “From the start, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, we didn’t play as hard as we needed to play. We didn’t play as smart as we needed to play.”
Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the beginning and that would remain the score for an excruciating three minutes as the Bulldogs just could not find the bottom of the net.
A couple of free throws made by Jalen Thomas broke the stalemate for the Dawgs, but they would still not make a field goal until five minutes had passed in the opening half.
Pierre Brooks hit a big three-pointer to jar things loose and soon after the Dawgs found their rhythm.
Butler never surrendered the lead again, leading by 24 points at one point early in the second half, even as the Dawgs allowed Buffalo to get back in the game midway through the second half giving up a 10-1 run in what amounted to a five-minute long scoring drought.
“We quit guarding,” Matta said. “The three-pointers they started making, we had our hands down. We knew who the shooters were and we were giving them uncontested looks. We weren’t running hard in transition. We didn’t have it tonight.”
They weathered the storm and held on to keep the victory, but Jalen Thomas, who had a double-double (18 pts, 10 reb) agrees with his head coach that they needed to be better, especially after their big win over Texas Tech last week. Thomas said the game was an emotional letdown.
“We definitely did,” said Thomas said. “We needed that (Buffalo) game. Because coming off that Texas Tech win, everybody was high on us. We needed that to humble us. We weren’t ready to play tonight. We definitely thought we was going to play better than that.”
Thomas gave credit to Buffalo saying “They played harder than us.”
Butler has a chance to clean things up with just two games left in non-conference play. The Dawgs will host California this Saturday before having nearly a week off to close out the non-conference slate against Saginaw Valley next Friday.
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