Butler escorts Arkansas out of Big Dance

Frederick Owens
March 19, 2018

If this past decade is any indication, expect a close game Friday afternoon from the East Region in Detroit as 10-seeded Butler of the Big East takes on No. 7 Arkansas of the SEC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs are 20-13 this season. The everlasting words of Joel Cornette ring through the ears of Butler basketball fans throughout the country with every win in the NCAA Tournament.

The bracket offers a chance for a potential in-state matchup between the Indianapolis-based Bulldogs, of the Big East Conference, and the Big Ten's Purdue Boilermakers of West Lafayette, Ind.

The Razorbacks conclude the season 23-12 overall. Guarding the arc has been an issue for Butler's defense throughout the season.

In its last 11 games, Arkansas has held double-digit leads in nine of those contests.

Macon led the Razorbacks with 19 points against North Carolina, but he had to sit out a 2:59 stretch late in the second half because of leg cramps.

Even though Butler is seeded 10th in the East Region, they are a risky team to face. He almost posted a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high seven blocks in just 27 minutes. "And if we just put it up, I mean, we crash the offensive glass".

Which is what Butler did. In the second round, the journey will not any easier for the Bulldogs.

"It always hurts to lose, but they came into practice the very next day just wanting to learn from that loss (to Villanova) and be better the next time out", said Jordan, who played in three NCAA Tournaments with the Bulldogs from 1998 to 2001. "It was all about the next play, as Sean said".

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"A lot of games where we had to make plays to finish it off", Anderson said.

That could have been a huge emotional swing, but the Bulldogs kept their cool.

The Razorbacks shot just 36 percent as a team and 4 of 18 from beyond the 3-point line. That was a team high as he was one of three bench players to have a positive plus-minus in the opening 20 minutes. The Bulldogs shot over 49 percent from the field today, including a 42 percent mark from 3-point range.

Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman are the first class to win four straight first-round games in the tournament. "We talked about it in pregame". "Now obviously they're going to have more defensive rebounds because we didn't shoot the ball well".

For the Bulldogs to win this game, they needed to prevent the 3-point line from being a massive advantage for the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks came in shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, but they went just 4 of 18 in this game and didn't have enough threats inside to make up for that.

So media covering Butler already quiz Jordan about Game Two Sunday. Tony Hinkle was Butler's coach then. "We actually shot more 3s than them on the year by about five". Butler only knocks off Purdue if they take advantage of Haas' absence inside and defend the perimeter like they did against Arkansas.

"We got pounded on the boards, " Anderson said. They do a good job in their motion offense, setting screens. "And I thought our guys performed really well and won 23 games".

Jaylen Barford (15 points) and Daryl Macon (12 points) were Arkansas's only double-digit scorers, as no one else scored over seven points.

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