We’re at the point where Jim Nantz began finding every excuse he could for the poor shooting that’s stricken both the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA Championship Game. Nantz has cited the tough defense — a valid excuse as both teams boast top-notch defenses — as well as the adjustment needed to get used to shooting in the “cavernous” Reliant Stadium. Either way, it’s been tough sledding for UConn and Butler in the first half as both teams have been unable to find the range.
At last check, Butler was 5-21 from the field, 23.8 percent, and UConn was 9-28 from the field, 32.1 percent. It’s not as if turnovers have been an issue, Butler has two and UConn has four, but scoring has been a serious issue. Despite making only five field goals, Butler has tied the score up at 19 with just a few minutes to go in the half.
And how have the Bulldogs done it? By getting to the line, of course. Butler is 5-8 from the line, but forced UConn head coach Jim Calhoun to sit both Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb in the first half with two fouls. It’s that aggressive style keeping Butler in the game even as the offense sputters.
As I’m writing this, Kemba Walker picked up his second foul with just under three minutes to go after driving into the lane and getting whistled for the charge. With three of UConn’s biggest stars on the bench, the time is now for Butler, who have an opportunity to take advantage before the half.