Balanced Butler aims for 3-0 start against defensive-minded Troy

NCAA Basketball

Butler will look to maintain its unbeaten start to the season when it hosts Troy on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs (2-0) will play on short rest after posting an 85-53 win at home over Central Arkansas on Friday night. Butler shot 57.4 percent (27 of 47) from the field and 45.5 percent (10 of 22) from 3-point range.

Now comes a quick turnaround against Troy (1-0), which has been off since coasting to a 104-42 win over Carver College in its season opener Tuesday.

This is the first-ever meeting between Butler and Troy. The Trojans have not faced an opponent from the Big East since 2015, when they played Seton Hall.

“We’re going to have to play tough, aggressive defense on Saturday,” Troy coach Scott Cross said before he and his team traveled from their campus in Alabama to Hinkle Fieldhouse. “Butler is a big, strong, physical team.

“We have to stick to our game plan of moving and rebounding the ball and, in the end, knock down open shots when we get them. We’re looking forward to the trip, and I think it will be a great experience for the guys.”

Butler showed its depth on Friday night, when four players scored in double digits and six players notched at least eight points. Jayden Taylor led the team with 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting and was 7-for-8 from the foul line.

Jair Bolden (16 points), Bryce Golden (12) and Bryce Nze (11) also tallied double figures. Bolden took all seven of his shot attempts from 3-point range, making four.

Butler coach LaVall Jordan praised his team for its work ethic after the win.

“We’re far from a finished product, but I thought, defensively, our attention to detail took another step, which was a good thing,” Jordan said. “I thought we took care of the basketball against a team (that) we knew they would get up and pressure some.

“And then offensively, sharing the basketball. This team has been doing that with each other since we’ve been together. You can tell there’s a real connection with the group.”

Troy will try to interrupt Butler’s cohesiveness on offense with a focused defensive approach. The Trojans’ 42 points allowed in their season opener against Carver marked the second-fewest points scored by a Troy opponent since the 1950-51 campaign.

On offense, Troy could look to Desmond Williams to take the lead after he tallied a game-high 17 points in the season opener.

One player who quickly has embraced Butler’s home atmosphere at Hinkle Fieldhouse is Ty Groce. The Eastern Michigan transfer was sidelined by a sprained knee during the past few weeks but made his team debut Friday, notching eight points and six rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

“It was an amazing experience,” Groce said. “After watching two exhibitions and one game, it was nothing but excitement, ready to come out and give maximum energy and effort and make the most of it.”

–Field Level Media

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