After knocking off Missouri and Stanford in consecutive days last week, Butler received a Cyber Monday gift with a No. 24 ranking. The Bulldogs (7-0) enter Tuesday’s road showdown at Mississippi with the goal of earning another signature victory.
Butler was last ranked at No. 21 on March 13, 2017, a span of 43 consecutive polls.
Butler also defeated Minnesota on Nov. 12, so that adds up to wins over a school from the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten, plus the championship trophy from the 2019 Hall of Fame Classic. The Bulldogs enter a pivotal stretch, as they also host Florida on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler senior guard Kamar Baldwin, a preseason All-Big East First-Team selection, is off to a solid start, averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-1 Baldwin was named the Hall of Fame Classic MVP after scoring 17 of his team’s final 20 points to finish with 22 points against Stanford.
Baldwin drilled a pull-up jumper 5.4 seconds left for the game-winner in the 68-67 triumph over Stanford.
“He does this every day at practice,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan told reporters of Baldwin. “He’s the same competitor and he’s a winner. He’s an everyday guy and puts in the work. We have a ton of trust in him.”
The Bulldogs enter the nonconference showdown against Ole Miss with plenty of rest. They haven’t played in a week, but one of their main strengths is a solid defense. Opponents are shooting just 26.3 percent on 3-pointers and 40.7 percent overall.
Mississippi (5-2) will look to rely on its home-court advantage to knock off the Bulldogs, who will be playing in their first true road game this season. Ole Miss is coming off a 78-37 defeat to Oklahoma State in the NIT Tip-off on Friday. The Rebels open a three-game homestand looking to shake off the memory of scoring a mere 15 points in the first half, shooting 1-for-20 overall on 3s and committing 20 turnovers against the Cowboys.
The blowout loss spoiled any momentum built from a 21-point comeback win over Penn State on Nov. 27.
“We didn’t have a very good day of preparation,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “Leadership was bad. I take full credit. It’s embarrassing and disappointing … We didn’t compete very hard.”
The Rebels entered the Oklahoma State game averaging nearly 75 points per game and shooting 45.2 percent from the field, so maybe it was a one-game aberration.
Breein Tyree and Blake Hinson are two players to watch against the Bulldogs. They combined for 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the loss to Oklahoma State. Tyree, a senior guard, is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Hinson has made seven of his 17 3-point attempts and averaging 12.3 points.
As a team, the Rebels are shooting 30.9 percent on 3s and averaging 69.4 points per game.
–Field Level Media