Omaha, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - With only a portion of the schedule remaining, the Butler Bulldogs will look to bounce back from a tough loss on Saturday as they travel to face the Creighton Bluejays in a Big East Conference showdown at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
Butler watched as a five-game win streak came screeching to a halt thanks to one shot. With time expiring Saturday at home, a Villanova 3-pointer fell through the basket to sink the Bulldogs, 68-65, who are now 8-4 against conference competition. On the road, they own a 4-3 mark.
Creighton is trying to salvage what has otherwise been a disappointing season. The Bluejays took on Marquette Saturday, and pulled out a 77-70 victory to give the team its second win in three games. Creighton is 3-10 against the Big East this year, with a 9-5 record on its home court.
This meeting between Butler and Creighton marks the 11th all-time in the series history. The Bluejays own the advantage through the first 10 games, 6-4, but it was Butler that took the first clash among the programs earlier in the season, 64-61, in Indianapolis.
With 1.5 seconds left to play in regulation and the score tied at 65-65, Villanova's Darrun Hilliard connected on a dagger of a 3-pointer that gave the visiting Wildcats a three-point edge over the Bulldogs that would hold up. It was a relatively strong performance for Butler otherwise, as the Bulldogs connected on 41.2 percent of their shots from the floor, including 7-of-17 from beyond the arc. Kellen Dunham and Alex Barlow each netted 19 points to pace the Bulldogs in the defeat, while Kelan Martin came off the bench to contribute 10 points. Kameron Woods did his part on the boards against the Wildcats, pulling down a team-best 12 rebounds.
Dunham is continuing his run as one of the best scorers in the Big East Conference this season. His 16.8 ppg mark is the fourth-best in the league, and his 41.6 field goal percentage from 3-point range ranks fifth. He's joined by Roosevelt Jones (12.8 ppg) and Andrew Chrabascz (11.1 ppg) in double-digit scoring. The Bulldogs as a unit are netting 71.6 ppg on 44.3 percent shooting, while the team's exceptional defense is giving up just 61.3 ppg to opponents - the second-lowest total in the Big East. Woods averages 9.6 rpg for Butler, and ranks second in the conference behind Seton Hall's Angel Delgado's 9.9 rpg mark.
Creighton's trademark offense finally showed up Saturday against Marquette. Creighton, which was considered one of the better offensive teams in the country a season ago with Doug McDermott leading the charge, exploded against the Golden Eagles behind 54.9 percent shooting that led to the team's third conference win this season. Rick Kreklow scored a career-high 19 points and added seven rebounds to pace the Bluejays over Marquette. Devin Brooks chipped in 13 points with six assists, five rebounds and six turnovers, while both Geoffrey Groselle and Will Artino added 12 points in the win. Artino tallied a double-double by adding in a team-best 14 rebounds off the bench.
Austin Chatman wasn't overly productive on Saturday, but the point guard still has a large hand in the offensive success for the Bluejays this season. Chatman netted seven points with six assists, and he is still the only Creighton player averaging a double-digit scoring mark at 10.3 ppg, also heading the squad with 101 assists. Perhaps Creighton's season would be a bit better with Isaiah Zierden (9.5 ppg), who has been out since late January with a partially torn MCL. Brooks enters the fray against Butler leading the team in rebounding at 5.2 boards per outing. Creighton has generated 67.2 ppg this season behind 41.1 percent shooting, but the team is allowing exactly the same number, resulting in the near-.500 record.