Game #9-421: Saint Louis Billikens at Butler BulldogsFebruary 22, 2013 7:00 pm
After the beat-down I witnessed at Chaifetz Arena 3 weeks ago, I was hoping to see a much better game tonight in the rematch. I regret that I failed to give myself plenty of time to get there. I had meant to give myself an extra hour, in case there were traffic problems, but once I hit the road, I realized I had not fully integrated my time zone calculation into my morning strategy.
Unfortunately, at the intersection of I-70 and I-65, the ramp to I-65 north was closed because of a huge accident, and southbound I-70 was a parking lot. If it hadn't been for GPS on my Android phone with alternate route capability, I might have missed the entire game. As it was, I got there just before the under 8 media timeout in the first half. My mp3 player just happens to have FM radio on it, and the Dawgs were on 93.1 WIBC, so I was able to follow the game as I wound my way through the backstreets to Hinkle Fieldhouse.
(By the way, on the way to Valpo after the game, I found myself wondering if using GPS was somehow a violation of the spirit of Our Game)
Butler was still in the lead at the time, but SLU was starting to assert itself. Brandon Gaudin and Nick Gardner had pointed out on the pregame that SLU had more experience with lots of Juniors and Seniors (Déjà vu - Last year Brad Stevens made the same observation about Valpo, who swept Butler in 2012. Don't worry, if Butler played Valpo this year, I'm sure the result would not be the same).
The Butler fans can bring the heat just as much as the SLU fans can at Chaifetz Arena. Hinkle Fieldhouse was filled to the rafters, and several times in the 2nd half, they rained down boos upon the refs. Important difference: it was a tight game, and their team was behind. SLU fans still take the cake in this competition.
Butler took a slim lead into the halftime, but they had built up a size-able lead before St. Louis began to make its run. They continued that effort in the 2nd half. In one particular sequence, 3 straight times Butler looked sluggish on offense. Two turnovers and one poor shot led to 3 straight layups by the quick athletic SLU guards. As Brad Stevens was calling a timeout, Andrew Smith winced something awful. He looked like a guy who was watching the game slip through his fingers. It was a signature moment in a game that otherwise looked very different than the first meeting in St. Louis. The fact that Butler was in it until the final 19 seconds was a real accomplishment. Certainly they had the majority of the fans on their side and were playing on their home court, but they also benefited from poor outside shooting by the Billikens (outside meaning the perimeter; in the paint, St. Louis still had their way with them far too often). In one late offensive set, Mitchell or McCall looked like he had a wide-open lane to the basket only to be cut off by Andrew Smith, forcing a feed to the opposite corner where a 3-pt shooter was all alone and could take his time. In spite of that, the ball bounced off the opposite side of the rim and Rotnei Clarke ran down the rebound. It was one of many bullets the Bulldogs dodged.
Also, both teams shot poorly from the FT line. In particular, Roosevelt Jones has this horrible line-drive shooting form at the line. Having learned the art of FT shooting from the legendary Virgil Sweet, bad FT shooting form is something I spot instantly. Arc is very important. Jones doesn't have any. That makes for many misses.
Butler hit more shots and SLU hit less. That's another way to describe the difference between this game and the one 3 weeks ago.
All in all it was an enjoyable game. Hinkle was rocking and rolling all night long. The fans constantly rose to their feet and made as much noise as possible, especially after their team turned it over or the Billikens scored. I was enthralled.
GPS dutifully led me out of Hinkle to I-65 north for Valparaiso, where I'll be tomorrow for the Valpo-E.Ky. Bracketbuster game. But I am glad I stopped off in Indy. It was the first Butler game I have ever attended where I sat opposite the team benches, and the first time since Valpo's first ever bracketbuster game back in 2005 where I sat in the lower level. It was definitely a different perspective.
SAINT LOUIS 65, at BUTLER 61
SAINT LOUIS 21-5 (10-2) -- M. McCall Jr. 5-10 6-8 18; D. Evans 7-13 3-5 17; R. Loe 3-6 0-1 7; J. Jett 3-10 1-2 7; G. Glaze 1-3 0-0 2; C. Ellis 0-4 0-0 0; J. Barnett 0-1 2-3 2; C. Remekun 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 19-47 12-21 53.
BUTLER 22-6 (9-4) -- R. Clarke 5-11 0-0 13; A. Smith 4-8 1-2 9; R. Jones 3-8 7-11 13; K. Dunham 4-10 4-4 14; K. Woods 1-1 0-4 2; K. Marshall 2-4 1-2 5; A. Barlow 0-1 0-0 0; E. Fromm 0-1 0-1 0; C. Stigall 1-2 2-2 5. Totals 20-46 15-26 61.
Three-point goals: SLU 3-15 (K. Mitchell 0-2; C. Ellis 0-2; J. Barnett 0-1; J. Jett 0-2; R. Loe 1-4; M. McCall 2-6), BUTL 6-18 (R. Clarke 3-6; C. Stigall 1-2; A. Smith 0-2; E. Fromm 0-1; K. Dunham 2-7); Rebounds: SLU 23 (R. Loe 6), BUTL 36 (A. Smith 9); Assists: SLU 10 (J. Jett 3), BUTL 11 (A. Smith 3); Total Fouls -- SLU 16, BUTL 22; Fouled Out: SLU-None; BUTL-R. Jones.