INDIANAPOLIS, IN – After an upset win, 74-66, over the Tar Heels in the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Butler Bulldogs dropped the semifinal game to the Oklahoma Sooners on Thanksgiving Day. A seven-and-a-half minute drought in the first half put Butler in a deep hole and Oklahoma took advantage to record a 59-46 victory on Thursday (Nov. 27). The loss was Butler’s first this season and sends the Bulldogs into the third place game on Friday (Nov. 28).
The Bulldogs (4-1), coming off a stunning upset of the #5 North Carolina Tar Heels, struggled to score throughout against the Sooners, ranked 21st in the USA Today Poll and receiving votes in the A. P. National Poll. Butler shot just 29.2% (7-24) in the first half, while falling behind by 12 points, and then managed just 20% (7-35) in the second half.
“You have to give Oklahoma a lot of credit. That’s a really good team we played, and I think they’re going to have a heck of a year,” said Butler Coach Chris Holtmann of his team’s shooting struggles. ”We’ll make shots at a higher clip than what we did,” continued the Bulldogs’ coach. “We had some, particularly right around the rim, that we just didn’t finish, that I think typically we’ll finish.”
The two teams traded leads in the first five minutes, before the Bulldogs hit the deep freeze. After junior guard Kellen Dunham hit a three-point field goal to tie the game at 8-8, the Bulldogs went more than seven minutes without scoring. By the time sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz hit a free throw to break the drought, Butler was trailing, 24-9.
The Bulldogs did manage five more free throws over the next two minutes, but the Bulldogs next field goal didn’t come until four-and-a-half minutes remained in the opening period. Dunham hit the jumper, which ended a ten minute stretch between field goals.
Butler opened the second half with baskets by junior forward Roosevelt Jones and Chrabascz to cut Oklahoma’s margin to eight, 36-28, but that’s as close as it would get. The Sooners (4-1) went on an 11-0 run to open their biggest lead of the game, 47-28, and Butler never got closer than 12 points the rest of the game.
Dunham led all scorers in the game with 17 points, but he was the only Butler player to finish in double-figures. Chrabascz added nine points, while transfer Austin Etherington had six points in a reserve role.
Isaiah Cousins led the Sooners with 13 points, while TaShawn Thomas and Jordan Woodward each added ten.
The Bulldogs, who out-rebounded North Carolina 57-40 one day earlier, were beaten on the boards by Oklahoma, 41-32. Jones led Butler with six rebounds.
Butler’s 23.7% shooting performance in the game was the lowest by the Bulldogs since the 2011 national championship game against Connecticut.
The Bulldogs will conclude their week in the Bahamas in the consolation place game at 2 p.m. (ET) against Big East foe Georgetown Hoyas.
Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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