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Creighton v Butler

Source: Michael Hickey / Getty

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time this season, Butler has lost back-to-back games at home as they’ve had to navigate a tough stretch of Big East play.

Not two weeks ago, the Bulldogs upset Creighton at their home court in Omaha in what was one of Butler’s most important wins of the season as far as their resume for the NCAA Tournament is concerned.

The Blue Jays, now ranked 17th in the nation, returned the favor inside Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. They outscored Butler 45-22 in the second half alone propelling them to a 79-57 pummeling.

“We missed a lot of open shots today,” said head coach Thad Matta after the game.”Against a team like Creighton when you don’t make those shots, that ignites their transition. We lost our defensive focus real quick and it cost us.”

Most of what he refers to happened in the second half. The Bulldogs were a dismal 10-of-32 from the field, also only making one 3-pointer out of 11 they threw up.

The outset of the game was as if Butler had picked up where they left off from the game in Omaha. The Bulldogs were 50-percent from the field and 5-of-11 from behind the arc. They also scored well in the paint, a vast difference from their previous game against #4 Marquette.

Midway through the first half, the Bulldogs led 17-11 at one point. But Creighton, led by Baylor Scheierman who scored 11 of his 27 points for the game in the first half, took a 36-35 lead into the half.

Even giving up the six-point lead, the Bulldogs were in a good spot, all things considered, off the heels of 13 first-half points from Posh Alexander.

Then entering the second half, the well dried up for the Dawgs as the shooting woes began, and turned into an offensive gold mine for the Blue Jays. They had a 12-point lead by the middle of the second half. It then seemed for every one shot Butler hit, Creighton hit two and it showed as Creighton exploded for a 45-point second half for which Butler had no answer.

22 of those 45 points came from transition plays for the Blue Jays. The Bulldogs also had three costly turnovers in the last five minutes of the game.

Coach Matta said it was one of those games where the poor shooting was “contagious.”

“It seems like free throw shooting is contagious,” he said. “If you’re hitting them, you shoot well. If you miss them, you’re not. DJ Davis had some open looks, but they weren’t falling. It was one of those days for us.”

Davis finished with 12 points and was just 1-for-7 from behind the arc. He also only got to the foul line once on an and-1 play where he made just one free throw the whole game. Jalen Thomas led the way for Butler with 18 points.

The outlook is one of uncertainty now for the Bulldogs who are still right on the cusp of the bubble conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Most prognosticators have Butler still at around an at-large 10-seed. But, the margin for error has shrunk even more as the Bulldogs have lost three of their last four, all of whom are Quad-1 teams.

Butler still has five games remaining in the regular season to bolster themselves as much as they can. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that all their remaining opponents (at the moment) are unranked. Three of those five teams are opportunities for Quad-1 wins.

They will hit the road in three days as they will take on Villanova in Philadelphia on Feb. 20.