December 28, 2019 / 11:18 PM / a month ago

Stifling defense helps No. 12 Butler to easy win

EditorsNote: Corrects to “reserve” in lead; adds missing “minutes” in graf 7; other minor edits

Reserve senior center Derrik Smits scored a team-high 16 points while Bryce Nze and Sean McDermott both added 10 to spark No. 12 Butler to a convincing 67-36 blowout win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Butler (12-1) shot just 7-for-25 on 3-pointers, but played stellar defense in holding the Warhawks (4-7) to 23.3-percent shooting (14-for-60).

Reserve guard Josh Nicholas finished with 12 points for the Warhawks.

The Bulldogs made their first meeting with the Warhawks a memorable one by limiting the visitors to 11-for-52 shooting through the first 35 minutes to extend the nation’s longest nonconference home winning streak to 58 games.

Butler raced to an 18-9 lead by the 10-minute mark on the strength of a solid shooting display. Nze drilled a jumper to give the Bulldogs a 22-12 lead at the 8:06 mark. The Bulldogs made nine of their first 20 shots, which managed to include an icy 2-for-10 showing on 3-pointers.

But the Bulldogs, which has nonconference wins over seven power conference opponents, rode seven early points from McDermott to prevent the Warhawks from cutting the deficit down to a more manageable number.

Louisiana-Monroe’s cold spell extended to a 5-for-26 shooting display to fall into a 30-14 deficit with less than three minutes remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs, which entered the game ranked fourth nationally by allowing opponents an average of 55.1 points per game, stymied the Warhawks with their relentless defense.

The Warhawks concluded the first-half shooting 17.9 percent and just 2-for-11 on 3s to go with a 2-for-6 effort from the free-throw line.

The Bulldogs suffered through their own shooting woes in the first half, finishing the half shooting 3-for-13 on 3-pointers and 13-for-31 overall but still managed a 33-14 lead thanks to a 15-2 run to end the half. It was the lowest point total that Butler had given up in a half this season.

—Field Level Media

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