Tough week for Butler basketball

(Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images North America)

(Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images North America)

The buzzer-beating thrillers have not seemed to swing in Butler basketball’s direction this season.

At the very beginning of the season, the Butler Bulldogs gathered five wins in five games before losing two close games to Louisiana State and No. 5 Oklahoma State. Against Oklahoma State, the Bulldogs lost by two, while Louisiana State collected their overtime victory by two as well.

Following the Old Spice Classic 1-2 finish, the Bulldogs went on another five-game winning streak, defeating Indiana foe Purdue University at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse as part of the Indiana Crossroads Classic.

An impressive 10-2 record rested on the shoulders of the squad, storming into the Big East Conference play. The Bulldogs knew they would have tough competition.

No. 11 Villanova University entered Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. with expectations to put away Butler early. Key starter Roosevelt Jones is out for the season with a wrist injury and a youthful bench provided evidence that the Bulldogs could not win.

Sure, ‘Nova luckily snuck away with an overtime victory, but not without a Bulldog fight. Butler came back from a difficult deficit, forcing the Wildcats into overtime. Unlike last year’s fashion, the team did not successfully experience a buzzer-beater opportunity.

Shaking off the first conference lose was not easy. The Bulldogs left for Ohio in hopes to defeat non-established rival, the Xavier Musketeers. The team exhibited their typical hard-working style of play by posting 42 points in the first half. This was not enough as the team fell extremely short, leaving another tally in the loss column.

Although the Bulldogs are winless in the conference, certain players have stepped up to prove why they deserve to where a Butler jersey. Underclassmen Kellen Dunham and Elijah Brown have double-digit numbers for points per game. Dunham averages 16.5 points and Brown averages 14.5.

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Regardless of conference-specific statistics, Dunham is still the main reason why Butler will continue with a more than decent record throughout the season. Dunham leads the team in and has the fourth highest, in the conference, points per game (17.9). He also has the highest average of 3-pointers per game (2.8-6.6).

In reality, the Bulldogs are leaping down the right path, posting 70.5 points per game in the conference, compared to an overall 74.6 average. Their average field goal made and attempts in conference play versus overall is close to the same number. Collectively, the team has a 45.2 field goal percentage and 67.1 free throw percentage.

The conference play continues on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. The Butler Bulldogs head into the game against DePaul University at home, looking for their first team-career conference win in the Big East.