Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Northwestern Wildcats take on their first member of the Top-25 this season, as they come calling on the 23rd- ranked Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Northwestern opened the season with five straight victories, but losses in its last two games has the team reeling a bit as it enters the weekend. First, it was a 61-42 setback versus Northern Iowa on Nov. 26 during the Cancun Challenge in Mexico, and that was followed by a 66-58 home loss to Georgia Tech on Wednesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Butler comes into the fray having won six of its first seven games, the lone setback being a 59-46 verdict versus Oklahoma in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving. Since then however, the Bulldogs have knocked off Georgetown (64-58) and Indiana State (77-54). Butler is 3-0 at home this season.
Northwestern leads the all-time series with Butler, 16-9, but it was the Bulldogs who came out on top the last time the teams met in Indianapolis, 57-53, on Nov. 26, 2008.
Despite a 19-point, 10-rebound effort from center Alex Olah, Northwestern couldn't overcome an early deficit as it dropped an eight-point decision to Georgia Tech earlier in the week. The Wildcats really struggled from beyond the arc, converting a paltry 4-of-23 3-point attempts (.174), while also going only 8-of-14 at the free-throw line (.571). The Yellow Jackets didn't shoot much better, going 2-of-9 from distance, but they were 14-of-18 at the charity stripe, while getting 34 points from their bench, compared to 21 for Northwestern.
The Wildcats are far from an offensive force this season, as the team averages just 60.9 ppg, and boasts only two double-digit scorers (Olah, Tre Demps), neither of which sets the world on fire on a consistent basis as they both net a mere 10.9 ppg. NU is making good on only 39.8 percent of its field goal attempts while allowing 41.6 percent success to its opponents. The 'Cats are on the plus side of the ledger in rebounding margin (+2.1), while sitting just about dead even in turnover differential (-0.1).
Roosevelt Jones scored 14 points to lead five players in double figures, as Butler rolled over Indiana State earlier this week, winning by 23. Kameron Woods logged a double-double consisting of 10 points and 12 rebounds, the latter figure helping the Bulldogs claim a 39-26 edge on the glass. The Sycamores shot just 37.5 percent from the field, while Butler was 53.8 percent successful, which included a 6-of-14 showing from 3-point range.
Kellen Dunham is putting up 16.4 ppg as Butler's top scorer on the season, and Kelan Martin is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster with his 10.9 ppg. However, Jones (9.9 ppg) is close to joining them, as are Andrew Chrabascz (9.3 ppg) and Alex Barlow (8.0 ppg). Jones is the top playmaker for the squad, as he hands out 5.3 apg, while Woods spearheads its rebounding effort with 9.1 rpg. Overall, the Bulldogs are putting up 72.9 ppg while permitting just 54.4 ppg. The team's outstanding defensive play extends out to the perimeter, where foes are draining only 24.4 percent of their 3-point tries.