When Butler traveled to Newark in late January for the first meeting between the two schools, Seton Hall had a chance to get to 4-4 in the Big East and string together their first Big East winning streak since 2012.
But they blew it, big time.
With the game in the balance against a 1-7 Butler team in league play, the Hall scored just two baskets over the final 5:55 of play and missed several golden opportunities just prior to the under-four media timeout. The poor late-game execution was an example of a drought-happy Seton Hall offense that had revealed itself during the non-conference schedule and has been witnessed in games since Butler.
Tomorrow afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Seton Hall again has a chance to establish their first Big East winning streak since the 2011-12 season and notch their fourth road win in league play which would match their highest total since the 2005-06 season under Louis Orr. Butler is also looking for their first Big East winning streak of the season.
The outcome of the game will also affect Seton Hall's first round Big East Tournament opponent. Butler (3-14) has split games with DePaul (3-15) and will therefore be tied with the Blue Demons if they lose to Seton Hall. If that is the case, the next tiebreaker would be the team with the best record against the highest seeded team in the Big East (if both teams are 0-2, the next best Big East team is used and so on). DePaul currently gets the nod as they have beaten St. John's, which can change if Marquette defeats St. John's tomorrow and therefore finishes above St. John's (Butler has beaten Marquette; DePaul has beaten St. John's). All of the above is moot if Butler beats Seton Hall as the Bulldogs would then automatically play Seton Hall in the 8-9 matchup, where Seton Hall is already locked in.
Butler (13-16, 3-14) is coming off a definitive win on DePaul Senior Night last night in which the Bulldogs led by 30 early in the second half. Sure-handed pure point guard Alex Barlow (6.7 ppg, 3.4 apg) scored a career-high 19 points against DePaul and has dimed out 14 assists over his last three games including eight in an 87-81 loss to Providence.
Senior Wing Khyle Marshall, (14.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) who thrives within the arc, has scored 16.5 ppg over his last four. Marshall did the Pirates in by scoring 9 of his 13 points in the second half in Butler's trip to New Jersey including a huge basket that gave Butler a lead they wouldn't relinquish with just over a minute to play. Marshall is Butler's second scoring source along with Kellen Dunham (16.4 ppg, 4 rpg), the Bulldogs' only significant threat from beyond the arc (69-203, 33.7%) -- no other Butler player has attempted more than 100 three-pointers on the season. Dunham was limited to just 9 points against Seton Hall, his third lowest total in league play, but he sank two crucial triples in the second half in Newark.
Seton Hall did a decent job of silencing Khyle Marshall and Kellen Dunham at Prudential Center, but did benefit from some fortuitous officiating and an off shooting night from Dunham. Butler's peripheral players Elijah Brown (12 points), Andrew Chrabascz (11 points), and Kameron Woods (11 points, 8 rebounds) did a good job of stepping up -- no Bulldog outside of Marshall and Dunham averages above 8 ppg.
Kevin Willard should be keen to keep relying on in-form Gene Teague (10.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg) on the interior tomorrow. Teague's effectiveness significantly opens up the inside-out game, a Seton Hall strength, and he has been rather effective at scoring early in possessions when found by Jaren Sina (6.3 ppg, 2.4 apg) or Sterling Gibbs (13.8 ppg, 4.3 apg).
It will be interesting to see if Brian Oliver (11.1 ppg) continues to receive the green light from beyond the arc tomorrow. Oliver is fresh off a 20-point (5-10 3pt) performance against Xavier that was perhaps his best all-around game of the season. Jaren Sina was able to find Oliver several times in transition off of Musketeer turnovers and Fuquan Edwin (15.2 ppg, 2.9 spg) steals. Edwin played through a bruised thumb on Senior Night against Xavier while Patrik Auda (sprained ankle) looks to return from missing the game Monday.
KenPom says: No. 100 Butler - 67, No. 80 Seton Hall - 64 (41%)
Projected Butler starters:
5-11 Jr., G - Alex Barlow
6-6 So., G - Kellen Dunham
6-6 Sr., G - Khyle Marshall
6-7 Fr., F - Andrew Chrabascz
6-9 Jr., F - Kameron Woods
When: Saturday, 4:30 pm ET
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 970 (Gary Cohen, Dave Popkin)