If one was to watch Monday night’s game and not know the stakes, Butler and UConn might be mistaken for NIT teams. It’s exaggerating it a bit, but both teams are struggling mightily on the offensive end of the floor — UConn shot 29 percent from the floor and Butler shot 22.2 percent. Nevertheless, despite making just six shots in the first half, Butler has the 22-19 halftime lead, thanks to Shelvin Mack’s three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half.
It’s not all bad however, especially for fans of defense. Butler and UConn are both terrific on the defensive end of the floor, and make executing sets and getting good shots incredibly difficult. It’s why you see some of the atrocious shooting numbers in the half, but poor shooting was to be expected coming into the game.
Kemba Walker scored a team-high seven points for UConn, but was forced to sit for the final three minutes after picking up his second foul. Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb also played limited minutes after being whistled for two quick fouls. Oriakhi had four points on 2-2 shooting when he was on the floor.
Shelvin Mack led the way for Butler with seven points, matching Walker stride-for-stride. Chase Stigall and Matt Howard played complimentary roles, scoring six and five points, respectively. Andrew Smith was active on the glass, grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
At the half, Butler has the 22-19 lead in what looks like a race to 40 points. We’re 20 minutes away from crowning a champion, and Butler is 20 minutes away from doing what it could not do in 2010. Stay tuned to our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream for updates on the game. For more, head over to SB Nation’s 2011 NCAA Tournament hub.