Butler never really had to sweat in its 76-64 victory over Winthrop in the First Round today, playing like the higher-seeded team in holding the Eagles to 27 first-half points on 34.5 percent shooting. After Winthrop got the neutral members of the crowd on its side by cutting the Butler lead to seven with 13:28 left, Butler took control of the game and never looked back.
Three Key Takeaways.
- The seniors showed up for Butler. Whether it was Avery Woodson putting on his own personal three-point shooting contest by going 5-of-7 in the first half, Andrew Chrabascz simply being solid in a number of areas on both sides of the floor, or Tyler Lewis doling out eight assists and only committing one turnover, Butler’s upperclassmen all played really well today without any particular lulls in production or intensity.
- Xavier Cooks and Keon Johnson were fun to watch. It wasn’t enough to carry Winthrop to a win today against a Big East opponent with a burgeoning postseason pedigree, but it’s easy to see how Winthrop won the Big South. Cooks and Johnson didn’t maintain their level of production all game, but they both had a couple of “wow” moments apiece. Cooks showed a versatile inside-out game with some nifty and crafty moves in getting to the rim and finishing; Johnson meanwhile was obviously the fastest man on the court, exhibiting this attribute when he went on a personal 7-0 run early in the second half.
- Kelan Martin needs to do more. What happened in today’s game was fine for Butler because the Bulldogs held a 28-9 advantage in bench points. But in future games, Kelan Martin must be more aggressive. He was barely noticeable in the opening stanza before contributed something late. Another no-show from the Bulldogs’ leading scorer might lead to the end of the season.
Star of the Game. Avery Woodson, Butler. Woodson broke things open early with his hot shooting, making it difficult for Winthrop to put much pressure on the Bulldogs. The senior graduate transfer entered the game shooting 41.7 percent from behind the arc, but he finished by making 6-of-10 on the afternoon. He also added a respectable five rebounds from the guard spot and committed zero turnovers. Sometimes a hot shooter can carry a team a round or two in March, and Woodson showed he has that capability.