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Butler v Seton Hall

Source: Rich Schultz / Getty

NEWARK, N.J. — It had all the makings of what amounted to a game in which the winner would be assured an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In the end, it would be Seton Hall staking a stronger claim to an at-large bid as they took advantage of inconsistent play from Butler en route to a 76-64 win over the Bulldogs. The game highlighted glaring holes for the Bulldogs in the form of limited play in the paint and an inability lately to take care of the basketball.

With Butler’s tournament resume shakey at best having lost four straight games in the Big East, it was absolutely crucial that the Bulldogs get off to a good start.

Anything but took place as Seton Hall hammered Butler into the ground off a 16-3 scoring run out of the gate. The run, though fueled partially by the solid paint play from Jaden Bediako, came mostly off the poor handling of the ball by Butler.

Posh Alexander, despite scoring Butler’s first nine points off three made 3-pointers, also accounted for four of Butler’s eight first-half turnovers.

Butler was able to clean up the turnovers over the final eight minutes of the first half by knocking down several threes cutting the Seton Hall lead to five at 37-32 going into halftime. 

That seemed to be the only thing keeping Butler in the game at that juncture with eight made threes in the first half to Seton Hall’s one.

Having appeared to remedy their turnover problems, they returned to start their second half as the Bulldogs would rattle off five turnovers in the first five minutes.

Butler again found themselves in the all too familiar position of having to play from behind after digging an early hole, which has been the case for each of their last four losses in a row. Having cut the Seton Hall lead to two (53-51) midway through the second half, that is as close as they would get.

Al-Amir Dawes of Seton Hall drained several untimely (for Butler) treys to keep the Dawgs at bay. The Dawgs had no answer for Dre Davis who scored 21 points, most of them in the paint. Kadar Richmond added 20 and Dawes finished with 19 points.

Butler would go more than five minutes without a bucket late in the half and the Pirates cruised to a 76-64 victory.

Jalen Thomas led the Bulldogs with 12 points. Pierre Brooks and Posh Alexander added 11 a piece. Butler ended the game with 16 turnovers and was outscored in the paint by a whopping 44-16 margin.

The victory is a devastating blow to Butler’s hopes of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have been given a pretty good cushion of late playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, but that has only taken them so far as they have needed to gather some key Quad-1 wins.

The Seton Hall game was a chance to do that and they could not deliver. The loss likely means, that unless they get some serious help in from outside their control, the Bulldogs’ only avenue to the NCAA Tournament may now be to win the Big East post-season tournament come March.

In the meantime, Butler can at least soften the blow and keep playing for a possible bye in the Big East tourney as they will face St. John’s back in the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse in four days (2/28).