December 04, 2014

Butler is continuing to establish itself as one of the nation's best teams at defending the 3-point line.

That could be bad news for a Northwestern squad that is misfiring from long range.

The No. 23 Bulldogs look to defeat the Wildcats for the fourth straight time Saturday in their first home game as a ranked team this season.

Butler (6-1) moved into the Top 25 this week on the strength of a 2-1 performance at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas that included wins over then-No. 5 North Carolina and fellow Big East foe Georgetown.

The Bulldogs then put on a defensive clinic Wednesday, pulling away for a 77-54 victory at Indiana State. They limited the Sycamores to 37.5 percent shooting, including 6 of 24 on 3-pointers.

''I think it's the makeup of our team,'' interim coach Chris Holtmann said. ''I look in their eyes when teams score on us and they don't like it.''

Butler is limiting opponents to 24.4 percent on 3-pointers for one of the best marks in the country. It led the Big East in 2013-14 at 30.8 percent in its first season in the conference.

That figures to make Saturday's game a difficult one for Northwestern, which looks to avoid a third straight loss after a 5-0 start. The Wildcats are the third-worst 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten at 32.4 percent.

Northwestern's worst performance from beyond the arc was in Wednesday's 66-58 home loss to Georgia Tech. The Wildcats made 4 of 23 3-pointers, with top perimeter threat Tre Demps going 1 of 5.

"We're getting wide-open shots with guys I think are good shooters," coach Chris Collins said. "Sometimes it's as simple as you gotta put the ball into the basket."

The Wildcats fell behind 20-2 less than seven minutes in and trailed by 13 at halftime before rallying much too late.

''I was really surprised the way we started the game,'' Collins said. ''For whatever reason, we just came out really flat. You cannot spot a good team 20 points and expect to win."

Alex Olah had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Demps added 14 and seven. Those two along with Sanjay Lumpkin, Bryant McIntosh and Vic Law have started every game, though Collins said he would talk to his staff to discuss the possibility of lineup changes.

"If I think change is needed, I am going to do it," Collins said. "With last year's team, I think every guy on our team started."

A fast start could be critical against Butler, which raced to a 20-8 advantage just 8 1/2 minutes in Wednesday. The Bulldogs made five of their six 3-pointers in the first nine minutes.

''I think our guys came out with the appropriate approach and mindset tonight,'' Holtmann said.

Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones each scored 14 points for Butler, which shot 53.8 percent.

Butler won 74-65 in the last meeting Dec. 8, 2012. Dunham and Jones combined for 21 points for the Bulldogs while Demps scored 15 off the bench.

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