INDIANAPOLIS (IN) - The Bulldogs look to extend their winning streak to five against Oklahoma (3-1) in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis. InsidetheDawgPound takes a look at what to expect.
Time: 1:00PM EST
Venue: Imperial Arena (Nassau, Bahamas)
Know Your Foe
Record - 3-1 (0-0)
Coach - Lon Krueger, 4th season, 61-39 (540-343 Overall)
Mascot - Sooners
Conference - Big 12 Conference
Enrollment - 30,400
Tale of the Tape
Oklahoma started the season off ranked in the preseason Top 25. The Sooners then lost to Creighton in Omaha last week, which dropped the Sooners from some rankings. However, Oklahoma responded with a 75-65 victory over #22 UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Oklahoma was led by junior guard Buddy Hield, who finished with a game-high 24 points on 7/19 shooting from the field. Sophomore guard Frank Booker added 11 points off the bench. Hield leads the Sooners in scoring on the season at 21.5 points per game, while Junior forward Ryan Spangler adds 11 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Butler has now won 4 straight to start the season under interim head coach Chris Holtman. The Bulldogs latest win was the 74-66 win over #5 North Carolina. Butler was led by senior point guard Alex Barlow with 17 points and freshman wing Kelan Martin with 17 points as well. Butler dominated the glass collected 29 offensive rebounds which helped Butler spring the upset, despite shooting just over 30% from the field. The Bulldogs had a complete team effort and impacts from all 8 players that got time against North Carolina. Junior Kellen Dunham leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 17 points per game.
Players to Watch
Kameron Woods - Woods had a great game on the glass against the Tar Heels. He collected 13 total rebounds including 8 on the offensive glass. Those second chance opportunities are what game Butler the chance to pull the upset. Woods will need to control the glass again against the Sooners for Butler to have a chance at beating Oklahoma. Woods is now averaging 10.3 rebounds per contest this season.
Kellen Dunham - Dunham had a tough time getting started against North Carolina. The leading scorer for the Bulldogs (17ppg) shot just 3/17 from the field and will need to bounce back against the Sooners. Dunham should be helped by the offensive performances from Barlow and Martin, as this should free up space on the perimeter.
Kelan Martin - Martin had an outstanding game against the Tar Heels. The talented freshman scored a team-high 17 points on 5/11 shooting from the floor. He showed his ability to score against elite competition from both inside and out. Martin will be a key for Butler off the bench this year and then in the starting lineup for years to come.
Buddy Hield - The Sooner's leading scorer (21.5ppg) will be a key matchup for the Bulldogs. Hield is shooting 42% from the field on the season and has scored 21, 16, and 24 points in his last three contests.
Ryan Spangler - The big man for the Sooners is averaging a double-double at 11 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 61.5% from the field this season. Kameron Woods and Andrew Chrabascz will look to control Spangler on the glass and Tyler Wideman may get a few minutes guarding the Sooners biggest threat on the block.
Keys to the Game
Rebounding - After a spectacular game against the Tar Heels on the glass, Butler will look to give itself more second chances on the offensive end, especially if the field goal shooting doesn't improve. The Bulldogs had 29 offensive rebounds against North Carolina.
Perimeter Shooting - The Bulldogs hit some key shots in their win against North Carolina, but the Bulldogs struggled as a whole from the field. Shooting just 30.6% from the field including 32.1% from 3-point range won't get the job done against many elite programs, especially if the Bulldogs wouldn't have hit the glass as well as they did. Kellen Dunham and Austin Etherington will need to hit some shots from the perimeter to help out Kelan Martin and Alex Barlow.
Free Throws - Butler did a good job down the stretch against the Tar Heels and had one of their best performances from the line in a while. The Bulldogs finished 21/29 (72.%) from the charity stripe after start the season near 60%. Butler will need to continue that trend against the power conference teams to come out on top in the final minutes.
52.5 - Butler leads the Big East in defense, allowing this many points per game.
7 - Roosevelt Jones's average assists per game this season, which ranks 3rd in the Big East.
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