Bulldogs Fall At Louisville, 88-73

LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Rakeem Buckles scored 17 points and four teammates added double-figures to lead host Louisville to an 88-73 victory over #16/18 Butler in the opening game of the new KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16.  The loss dropped Butler to 1-1 on the young season.

The Cardinals, playing their first regular season game in front of a crowd of 22,723, jumped on the visiting Bulldogs with an 8-0 run in the opening two minutes.  Mike Mara connected on a three-point field goal just 31 seconds into the game and Buckles added a conventional three-point play less than a minutes later.  Forward Terrance Jennings completed the opening volley with a short jumper with 18:03 remaining in the first half.

The Bulldogs never recovered.

Louisville stretched the margin to 12 points, 27-15, late in the first half and then added six more to the lead by halftime, 41-23.

“We got out-played,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens.  “I think in every which way, we got out-played.  We probably got, for whatever reason, caught up in the atmosphere.  And they’re really good.  Don’t let anybody else tell you they’re not.  They’ve got 10 or 11 players who could play at a lot of places.”

Butler center Matt Howard picked up two early fouls and wound up playing just four minutes in the first half.  The Bulldogs did pick up a solid scoring performance from junior guard Shelvin Mack, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, but it wasn’t enough to off-set the balanced attack of Louisville.

The Bulldogs comeback attempt in the second half was hampered by the absence of Mack, who battled leg cramps and was able to play just eight minutes.  But Howard tried to pick up the slack, scoring 21 of his 23 points in the final 20 minutes.

Butler did manage to cut the margin, which had ballooned to as much as 24 points in the final period, to 11 points on several occasions down the stretch, but each time Louisville answered at the free throw line.  The Cardinals hit 22 free throws in the second half  and 28 for the game.

Mack and Howard were the only Butler players to score in double-figures.  Junior Ronald Nored added seven points, but no other Bulldogs had more than four.  Howard led Butler with nine rebounds, while sophomore Andrew Smith came off the bench with eight.

“We’ve got a lot of room to get better,” added the Butler coach.  “It’s November 16.  If we hang our heads, we’re not going to get better, and if we chalk it up as just another game, we’re not going to get better.  We’ve got to learn from what we didn’t do well and move forward.  You know, we didn’t set the world on fire last November.”

Buckles finished with a double-double, adding a game-high 11 rebounds to his 17 points.  Jennings finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, Preston Knowles and Elisha Justice each added 12 points and Marra had 11.

Butler will return home to host instate foe Ball State on Saturday.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m. (ET).