Stories from last night’s 68-59 loss to Butler:
–The game was a lot closer than the final score indicated. UE resorted to fouling and Butler hit 11 of its last 12 free throws, which inflated the score. Regardless, it was a competitive game. The teams traded baskets for the majority of the match, then the Bulldogs went on their 8-0 run.
–You could play the “what if” game in a ton of situations, and I’m going to do it here: What if the Aces made their shots early in the game? Butler took 14 3-pointers in the first half, and made just three. UE took lots of layups and short jumpers, and missed those, too. Statistics are in favor of Evansville making those shots more often than not, of course, and if the Aces had made a few of those, they might’ve had a six- or eight-point lead heading into the locker room. But they didn’t. A couple of missed chances early hurt them later in the game when Butler made its run, and that’s that.
–UE played great team defense for most of the game, shutting down Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall. I was really impressed with how Adam Wing kept Marshall out of the paint and forced him to take outside shots, which he wasn’t as comfortable with. The Aces also did a fine job helping on Dunham when he looked to drive inside. You’re obviously not going to stop him completely, but holding him to six shots in the first half was impressive.
–Freshman guard Duane Gibson did not play his best game Saturday, which didn’t help the offense. He’s been working on his outside shot in practice, and he seemed to gain some confidence, taking a few more long jumpers against Butler, even if none of them fell. Yeah, they didn’t, fall, but it’s progress. Gibson’s an athletic guard with a nose for the basket, and a solid jump shot will only make him more of a threat, and it’ll draw a defender out to the perimeter and spread the defense, giving Gibson the option to drive, shoot, or dish to a teammate for a better look.
–UE head coach Marty Simmons on the team’s rebounding effort: “They got us on the glass. I thought our guys were trying. I saw guys looking to block out, I say guys working to block out. Khyle Marshall, he’s a hell of a player. He’s been doing this for a long time. We have to get better at it, we have to get physically and mentally tougher. We have to be able to block guys like (Marshall) out. I don’t think it was because guys weren’t trying to block out.”
–Wing on the early missed shots: “I know early on we might’ve missed six layups in the first half that could’ve been huge for us. I can’t remember us missing that many, but layups are going to fall. I’m confident, I’m glad guys are being aggressive. We’ll be okay.”
–Balentine on the early missed shots: “Similar to IU. IU had a lot of big guys down there that caused us to miss easy bunnies. Woods is very athletic and long, and so is Marshall, but for the most part it’s on us.”
–Butler head coach Brandon Miller on the Bulldogs’ penchant for 3-pointers in the first half: “We were open. They gave certain guys look, they played off certain guys, all the confidence in the world in terms of our guys stepping up and making the shots. We had some shot sin the first half that we normally make, Even the percentages would say that we normally make it.”