November 21, 2015

Butler managed to successfully grind through its first real test of the season. That style might not be good enough to win the next one.

The No. 22 Bulldogs likely need to be at their best against Miami on Sunday night when these undefeated teams meet for the Puerto Rico Tipoff championship.

Butler (3-0) shot 62.2 percent while outscoring the Citadel and Missouri State 237-130, but had a tougher time during Friday's 74-69 win over Temple in the tournament semifinals. Though the backcourt of Kellen Dunham and North Carolina State-transfer Tyler Lewis each scored 16 points to lead four players in double figures, the Bulldogs shot 36.4 percent and went 5 of 21 from 3-point range.

They managed to overcome an early 10-point deficit by owning a 22-14 advantage on second-chance points, committing only five turnovers, going 21 of 25 from the free-throw line and holding the Owls to 38 percent shooting.

"I thought we saw some great, gutsy stuff from a lot of guys," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. "We responded to some adversity that we had not seen this year, and we did it with the leadership and grit and toughness that you need.

"That's the makings of a good team."

With the senior Dunham averaging 17.0 points to lead seven players scoring in double figures and a defense that's allowed their first three opponents to shoot 22.6 from beyond the arc and 32.8 percent overall, the Bulldogs could be in for a special season.

"When we're out there, we just execute what (our coaches) want us to do," said senior swingman Roosevelt Jones, who is averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 10.7 rebounds.

The challenge for the Bulldogs to continue that consistent execution could be difficult against a Miami team that's averaged 96.0 points, shot 55.5 percent from the field and gone 30 of 57 from 3-point range in its last three games.

Despite allowing No. 16 Utah to make half of its 48 field-goal attempts Friday, the Hurricanes (4-0) shot 53.4 percent, went 9 of 17 from beyond the arc and scored 23 points off 16 Utes' turnovers to pull off a rather easy 90-66 upset.

''They know each other, they play very well together, they share the ball very well,'' said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, whose veteran team has scored 49 points off turnovers in its two victories in Puerto Rico. "We have four seniors, and a junior who basically has started since his freshman year ... We're a very balanced team."

Though the Hurricanes failed to make the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons, lost to Stanford in last year's NIT championship game and were picked to finish fifth in the ACC, they have nothing to prove to anybody but themselves.

''We're not really caught up in what people want to rank us and things like that,'' said guard Sheldon McClellan, who went 10 of 12 from the floor and finished with 27 points Friday. ''Just being aggressive on both ends of the court.''

Leading five Hurricanes averaging in double figures, McClellan is scoring 19.8 per game on 65.9 percent shooting and is 9 of 16 from 3-point range.

Miami most recently won back-to-back games over Top 25 teams last season against then-No. 8 Florida and No. 24 Illinois.

This will be the first meeting between the schools.

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