PREVIEW: Marquette hosts Butler, hopes to get back on track in February

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Dawson Garcia puts in. a layup over St. John’s Jan. 31. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After the team’s third straight loss against St. John’s Sunday, Marquette hosts the Butler Bulldogs at 4 p.m. Central Standard Time. For the first time at Fiserv Forum, the Golden Eagles have a losing record at home, sitting at 5-6 on the season. Six losses at home ties the amount of losses at Fiserv during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons combined.

Butler has struggled as of late and enters this game with a 5-9 overall record. The Bulldogs are sitting at 4-7 in BIG EAST play, which is right below the Golden Eagles at eighth in the conference standings. The team fell to Xavier 68-55 Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in their last game.

Butler possessed a two-game win streak in mid-January, stunning then-No. 8 Creighton 70-66 at home Jan. 16 and then winning the team’s first away game at DePaul Jan. 19. Since then, the Bulldogs’ game against Seton Hall scheduled for Jan. 22 was postponed, the team fell at UConn and against Xavier by 12 and 13 points, respectively.

In the all-time series, Butler holds the 23-20 advantage over Marquette and in the last 14 matchups since the realignment of the BIG EAST, the Bulldogs are 9-5. During the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Marquette beat BU 74-72 to head to its third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. In 2019-20, the teams split the series and each program won on their home court. MU has the 13-10 edge in Milwaukee, while the Bulldogs’ head coach LaVall Jordan is 3-3 against the Golden Eagles.

Two huge losses for Butler this season are the gradations of 6-foot-1 guard Kamar Baldwin and 6-foot-6 forward Sean McDermott.

Baldwin, the 2019-20 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Sportsmanship Award co-winner, finished his career as the fourth-best scorer in program history with 1,956 points and All-BIG EAST First Team honors. He was also a 2020 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award finalist. He led BU with 16.2 points per game, which was fifth in the conference. The Winder, Georgia native also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest.

McDermott, who ended his career in seventh place on the all-time list for 3-pointers made at 200, finished second on the team in scoring and rebounding at 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. He was one of three players to start all 31 games. He finished 14th in field goal percentage in the conference with a 47% clip and posted three double-doubles.

This season, the scoring leader for the Bulldogs has been graduate guard Jair Bolden. He paces the team with 12.6 points and contributes 3.9 rebounds per game and is shooting 38% from the field and from three.

Senior guard Aaron Thompson contributes a team-best 3.8 assists and falls at second-best on the team with 12.2 points in the nine games he has played. He is shooting a team-high 54% from the field.

Redshirt senior Bryce Nze has hauled in 8.4 rebounds per game, which ranks second in the BIG EAST. He has posted at least nine rebounds in each of his last five games.

Butler currently ranks 34th nationally and third in the conference with 11.1 turnovers a game. The Bulldogs have committed 10 or less turnovers in 53 of the 113 games that Jordan has been head coach for. Against Xavier Saturday, BU tied a season-low six turnovers, which is the sixth single-digit turnover output of the season in 14 games.

Meanwhile, Marquette sits at 10th in the BIG EAST with an average of 13.9 turnovers a game. The Golden Eagles have reached double-digit turnovers in all but three games, with their season low of eight against Providence Jan. 12.

The Golden Eagles look to get back on track and bring their record back to .500, as the Bulldogs will attempt to win their second BIG EAST road game of the season.

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @zoe_comerford