Butler looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it hosts Furman on Saturday. The Bulldogs opened the campaign with victories against Kennesaw State (82-64) and Princeton (85-75) before suffering a 79-65 setback to Maryland in the Gavitt Games, and they hope to get back on the winning track by beating the Paladins in their first ever meeting as part of the regional portion of the Phil Knight Invitational.
“Our effort was clearly there, but our execution needs to be better,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan told reporters. “We’ll learn from this and be better next time out.” The Bulldogs have won 37 consecutive non-conference home games and aim to extend their streak which began in 2012. Butler has dominated Southern Conference opponents in the last decade, chalking up seven straight wins by an average margin of 24.4 points, including a 144-71 victory against The Citadel two years ago. Furman is off to its best start since 2013-14 following back-to-back wins over Bob Jones University (101-48) and Elon (76-67) and hopes to make it three in a row in its first matchup with a Big East opponent in nine seasons.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 2
ABOUT FURMAN (2-0): Devin Sibley scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down six rebounds in the win against Elon to finish with over 20 points for the fourth consecutive game. John Davis went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line en route to 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four steals while Andrew Brown drilled four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points against the Phoenix. “Our team is battle tested and we have an old group who likes to fight,” Furman coach Bob Richey told reporters. “We knew it was going to be a battle and we’re happy to come out on the positive side of it.”
ABOUT BUTLER (2-1): Sean McDermott scored a career-high 17 points and Kamar Baldwin added 15 points before fouling out in the loss to Maryland. Kelan Martin, who was named the Big East Player of the Week after averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds in his first two games, added 12 points against the Terrapins and needs 18 to move past Khyle Marshall (1,373) for 19th place on the Bulldogs’ all-time scoring list. McDermott, Baldwin and Martin combined to shoot 16-of-48 from the floor versus Maryland as the Bulldogs finished a season-worst 34.3 percent from the field as a team.
1. Entering Friday’s action, Butler was ranked 20th nationally in fewest turnovers per game (9.3).
2. Martin has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive contests.
3. Furman has won three of its last four non-conference road games.
PREDICTION: Butler 85, Furman 71