Marquette Wire

Butler serves up career night for Marquette

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MBballFriday’s 85-62 defeat of Centenary marked the beginning of the Golden Eagles’ non-conference schedule, and already junior Jimmy Butler proved he can make headlines.

Last season Butler was the Marquette men’s basketball team’s do-it-all sixth man. The only thing that appears to have changed this season is his move to the starting lineup.

And even that wasn’t a very big deal to Butler, who relished being the spark off the bench last season.

“It wasn’t a big deal last year,” he said. “If Buzz (Williams) wanted me to come off the bench I’d come off the bench — whatever it takes for me to help the team.”

With the departure of so much of last season’s production, what it will take for Butler to help the team is, well, about what he has done so far.

In the team’s exhibition game against MSOE, Butler dropped 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes. Then, against the Centenary Gents Friday, Butler showed what he could do with starter’s minutes, finishing with a game-high 27 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and just one turnover, while hitting 11-of-16 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

“Everybody’s telling me to stay more offensive aggressive — keep attacking the basket, if you’ve got an open shot take it,” Butler said.

Apparently it was that simple. A little added aggressiveness and just like that Marquette has at least two offensive weapons to be accounted for. What’s more, Butler’s production derives from the exact same strengths he displayed last season: his instincts and hustle.

“When I drive right, drive left, he knows the exact spot to be at,” senior point guard Maurice Acker said. “That’s one good thing he does on offense. He’s in the right spot every time.”

That ability also explains Butler’s 23 boards (nine offensive) in two games. Last season the 6-foot-6 guard was second on the team in rebounds per 40 minutes with 8.0, behind only Hayward’s 10.9.

Apart from being the Golden Eagles’ best scorer and rebounder thus far, coach Williams said Butler is also the team’s best defender.

“He does exactly what we ask him to do every single pass, every single possession in practice,” Williams said.

When Centenary guard David Perez unloaded 18 points in the first half Friday, Williams turned to Butler to shut him down out of the break. With Butler shadowing, Perez went cold until the 16:23 mark when Williams pulled his defensive ace. Just 18 seconds later Perez was fouled by Dwight Buycks as he hit a three. Perez then made the ensuing free throw for the four-point play. Less than a minute later, Williams put Butler back in, and Perez scored just three more points on the night.

“I tried to outsmart myself. … I took him out, because I wanted to get him a blow, because I was afraid that he would play the rest of the game,” Williams said.

Last time he’ll do that.

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