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9:00 AM PT10:00 AM MT11:00 AM CT12:00 PM ET5:00 PM GMT1:00 PM 北京时间10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST, Jan 4, 2020
Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana  Attendance: 9,129

No. 11 Butler braces for tough test against Creighton

The No. 11 Butler Bulldogs know that a little home security will be vital when they play host to their first Big East Conference game of the season Saturday against the Creighton Bluejays in Indianapolis.

Butler (13-1, 1-0) will open its doors with a perfect 8-0 mark at home during nonconference play, while coming off a hard-fought 60-58 victory at St. John's on Wednesday. The Bulldogs dominated early, but turnovers allowed the Red Storm to rally.

Normally one of the better teams at protecting the ball, Butler ended the day at St. John's with a season-high 24 turnovers. Their previous high had been 14. In fact, the Bulldogs entered the New Year's Day game with an average of 10.4 turnovers per game, sixth best in the nation.

Officially, St. John's was credited with 16 steals. Butler had two.

Now comes a date against a harassing Creighton defense that forced Marquette into 16 turnovers Wednesday in a Big East-opening 92-75 victory.

The strategy Creighton hopes to employ was the pressure defense St. John's used during a 26-2 scoring run during their comeback when the Bulldogs turned over the ball 10 times. The Red Storm were able to hold a 48-46 lead with less than seven minutes remaining.

"We were up, they came back, and this year (at St. John's), we found a way to get the win," Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said. "You can't simulate what St. John's does in practice. We did a decent job of handling their pressure in the first half, but they ramped it up in the second half. I'm proud of this group, and their toughness, and how we found a way to get this done."

Butler will enter on a four-game winning streak after their only defeat of the season, a 53-52 setback to Baylor in a Big East-Big 12 Battle game on Dec. 10 at Waco, Texas.

The highlights in nonconference play for the Bulldogs were victories over Minnesota, Missouri, Stanford, Mississippi, Florida and Purdue.

Kamar Baldwin is scoring 14.3 points per game, while Sean McDermott has scored 11.4 points. Bryce Nze has scored 9.9 points with 7.1 rebounds. Baldwin had 19 points against St. John's, while McDermott had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Nze grabbed 12 boards.

Butler shot just 40.4 percent from the field against the Red Storm, under their 47.5 mark as a team. But they held St. John's to 34.5 percent from the field and know that doing the same against Creighton will be a challenge.

The Jays (12-2, 1-0) were an impressive 33 of 66 (50.0 percent) from the field against Marquette, while only turning the ball over nine times. What the Creighton defense lacks in an inside presence it makes up for in quickness, holding All-America Marquette guard Markus Howard to 18 points.

Mitch Ballock scored 24 points and went 5 of 9 from 3-point range against Marquette, while Ty-Shon Alexander added 21 points. Marcus Zegarowski, who leads the team in scoring with 18.3 points per game, added 16.

"We didn't get discouraged," Ballock said of playing against Howard and his ability to hit tough shots. "Basketball's a game of runs. We just had to weather the storm, stay true to who we are. I think we did that."

On an eight-game overall winning streak, Creighton has won 15 consecutive home games going back to last season.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 2, 2020

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