Thursday night, the Butler Bulldogs defeated Wright State 64-48. The Butler-Wright State match up featured typical Horizon League play—both teams played excellent defense. Offenses needed multiple picks to shoot an open three or drive to the basket.
The difference in the game was Butler's ability to seemingly drain three-pointers from any point in the offensive court. Butler opened the game with hot shooting and used it to quell a WSU run in the second half that brought the Raiders within eight points. However, between those flourishes, the Bulldogs went cold on both sides of the halftime break.
Two amazing truths were revealed during this game. First, Butler's depth is outstanding. Though the Bulldogs have just one standout, leading scorer and rebounder Matt Howard, six other players have scored more than 50 points this season. That allows Brad Stevens to keep his players fresh.
After losing four starters from 2007-08, Butler has reloaded without rebuilding. That is so impressive for a mid-major.
The second surprise of the game was Wright State's inability to score over large periods of time. Regularly this season, most notably in the game against Miami University, the Raiders have executed in the offensive zone but missed their shots. Against Butler, the Raiders sat at 11 points for five minutes.
Vaughn Duggins might be the player to work WSU out of those scoring droughts, but he is still sidelined with a broken finger. If Duggins decides to play again this season, he should be able to be a major scorer in the remaining conference schedule and tournament.
In Duggins’ absence, Cory Cooperwood has been the primary scorer, but he was noticeably absent from the first half. He recorded just one rebound and sat down with two personal fouls. He scored his first points of the game with less than nine minutes left.
The teams will meet again at Wright State in Feb. 7. Wright State will need more consistent scoring to win the game and split the season series.