No. 17 Butler gets past New Orleans 57-44
By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 17 Butler was content to let New Orleans play old-school basketball inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs weren't quite as happy with how they responded to throwback Saturday.
Kellen Dunham scored 15 points, Khyle Marshall had 13 points and eight rebounds and Roosevelt Jones finished with 11 points and six rebounds, leading Butler past the Privateeers 57-44 in a game that resembled the 1950s-style games that were once played and filmed in this arena.
"We just had too many turnovers and missed too many shots," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "If a team is going to use the clock like that, you better make your layups."
When the Bulldogs (12-2) did not, the game turned into a game that was far closer than anyone expected.
Based on their traditional standards, it was a horrible day. Butler committed seven turnovers in the first 8 minutes and finished with 15. It was just 5 of 16 from 3-point range and 17 of 42 (40.5 percent) from the field. And against the much smaller Privateers, Butler only held a 22-14 scoring advantage in the paint.
"It is frustrating at first when you have a few point-blank misses and they're being patient on the other end," Marshall said. "You want to make up for it on the other end, so it gets you a little jittery."
That was precisely what New Orleans coach and Indiana native Mark Slessinger wanted his rebuilding team to do Saturday - a stark contrast from the up-tempo style his team has used for most of the season.
The change caused consternation for a Bulldogs team that is accustomed to having the upper hand in these sorts of chess matches.
Eventually, though, Butler figured out a solution. It pulled away late in the first half, opened the second half with a quick scoring flurry and refused to extend its defense to help New Orleans shoot its way back into the game.
The combination was good enough to help the Bulldogs improve to 7-0 at home and win their ninth straight game. By the time Butler makes its Atlantic 10 debut on Wednesday night at conference favorite Saint Joseph's, Stevens knows his team will have to be sharper.
"We have to play Butler basketball, we have to play our `A' game the next two games, really for the next month," he said before reeling off the list of upcoming opponents. "You better bring it, you better be good because B-plus won't cut it anymore."
It was barely good enough against the Privateers (3-10), who have lost five straight, are 0-6 in true road games and have dropped 15 consecutive road games against Division I opponents. Their last win over a Top 25 team came against No. 21 North Carolina State on Nov. 18, 2007. Heck, they hadn't even played a ranked team since then.
Lovell Cook scored 11 points and Traddarius McPhearson had 10 to lead New Orleans.
The Privateers finished with a season-low point total, holding Butler to its second-lowest output of the season.
Slessinger believed the slow-down approach was the way to stay in the game.
"The way we pulled the ball out, I know you all thought it was going to be a Bloomfield 12-11 game, something from out of the 1950s," said Slessinger, an Indiana native who was referring to one of the state's smaller schools. "I saw one of those games at Bloomfield. Look, we're a little bit undersized, we're a little bit slow, but these guys make up for it with what they do."
They certainly put on a good show in Slessinger's old stomping ground.
Butler trailed 9-7 midway through the first half, and the superior Bulldogs never quite got a handle on the game until Dunham lined up his 3-pointer to give Butler a 13-11 with 6:01 to go. A few minutes later, Andrew Smith posted up for a layup, drew a foul and made a free throw. That sent the Bulldogs on a 9-3 run to close the half and gave them a 24-18 lead.
The Bulldogs kept the momentum in the second half.
Alex Barlow, who had made only three baskets in the 3 1/2 games since making the shot to topple No. 1 Indiana, got it started with his second 3 of the season. Marshall followed that with a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Jones and Rotnei Clarke knocked down a 3 to make it 32-20 with 17:35 to go.
That was all the Bulldogs needed to pull away, and New Orleans couldn't get closer than eight again.
"We're not concerned at all," Marshall said. "Like coach said, it was just one of those games. We know it wasn't our best game, we've just got to get better."
Updated January 5, 2013