ORLANDO (FL) - Butler (4-0) travels to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic. The Bulldogs will be taking on Washington State (2-2) in the 1st Round on Thanksgiving Day. InsideTheDawgPound takes a look at what to expect when the Bulldogs and Cougars clash.
Know Your Foe
Record - 2-2 (0-0)
Coach - Ken Bone, 5th Season, 72-67
Mascot - Cougars
Conference - PAC-12
Enrollment - 21,000
Tale of the Tape
The Bulldogs enter the Old Spice Classic still unbeaten at 4-0 under new head coach Brandon Miller. Butler survived their last game by rallying to beat Ball State 59-58. Washington State arrives in Orlando 2-2 after a disappointing loss to TCU 64-62. The Cougars trailed throughout the 1st half and eliminated the deficit in the 2nd, but couldn't quite grab the lead. Butler won the last meeting between the two schools 84-68 in the 2010 Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu, HI).
Players to Watch
Alex Barlow - The junior guard has done a great job this season of eliminating the oppositions best offensive player. Butler, as a hole, has done a wonderful job of making a team rely on its secondary players, rather than its star, and Barlow is a big part of that. Barlow will be matched up against point guard Royce Woolridge or leading scorer DaVonte Lacy.
Kellen Dunham - The sophomore shooting guard had a rough game against Ball State. He scored just 8 points and missed 11 consecutive shots from the field, after connecting on his first two. Dunham still leads the Bulldogs in scoring (15.8 points per game) and looks to rebound from the tough outing against the Cougars.
Kameron Woods - The 6-foot 9 junior forward is playing extremely well early this season. He is averaging nearly a double-double on the year at 11 points and 9 rebounds. Woods will be a huge key to stopping the Cougars on defense. Look for the Kentucky-native to have another big game on the glass.
DaVonte Lacy - Lacy enters the game as the Cougars leading scorer averaging 20.3 points per game. He is shooting 42.3% from the field including 35.9% from 3-point range. After two sub-20 point performances against Gonzaga and TCU, the 6-foot 4 guard looks to get back to the twenty point plateau against the Bulldogs.
Ike Iroegbu - The freshman guard from Elk Grove (CA) had a breakout game against Gonzaga where he scored 20 points on 6/11 shooting (2/3 3PT). The 6-foot 2 guard leads Washington State in assists (2.3) and is currently 2nd on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game.
Dexter Kernich-Drew - Washington State's biggest threat on the glass and on the front line is Kernich-Drew. The athletic 6-foot 7 Australian forward is averaging 7.5 points and shooting 42.9% from 3-point range. He can really stretch the floor, which helps Washington State space the floor and opens lanes for Iroegbu, Woolridge, and Lacy to drive. The lanky wing complements forward D.J. Shelton and center Jordan Railey perfectly.
Keys to the Game
Offensive Rebounding - Butler needs to be able to have another big game on the offensive glass against Washington State. The Cougars have given up just 31 offensive rebounds on the year, but Butler has averaged 13 offensive rebounds per game. While the Cougars could control the glass with their size (Shelton - 6'10" and Railey - 7'0"), but needs to use their quickness and agility to get to the offensive glass.
Size Versus Speed - Washington State is going to have a size advantage all over the court. The Cougars don't have a player on their roster under 6-foot 2. Butler will need to use its quickness and speed to overcome the size differential. Khyle Marshall may see an opportunity, like he did against Vanderbilt, to take a bigger post player off the dribble. Ball movement and crisp passing will be another important area for the to get open looks from the perimeter.
Free Throw Shooting - An area where Butler has struggled is at the free throw line. Butler is shooting just 59.2% from the charity strip good for 335th in the country. Washington State shoots 69% ranking them 186th in the country. Whoever can have a better day at the free throw line should have an advantage going down the stretch.
4-0 - Butler's record under new head coach Brandon Miller is the Bulldogs best start since 2008-09.
2 - This will be the 2nd meeting all-time between Washington State and Butler.
15.8 - Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall are tied for the team lead in scoring.
3 - Number of double-doubles this year for Butler (Kameron Woods 2, Khyle Marshall 1).
+6.5 - Butler leads the Big East in turnover margin.
8 - Number of steals Butler is averaging per game.