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Butler, DePaul battle early doldrums in tilt

Jan 1, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Butler Bulldogs head coach Thad Matta reacts against the Georgetown Hoyas during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not always accurate to compare scores against a common opponent in order to determine who might have the upper hand in a head-to-head matchup.

But as DePaul heads to Butler for a conference clash Wednesday night in Indianapolis, their recent meetings with Georgetown look like a fair barometer of where the teams stand.

On Thursday, DePaul (7-8, 1-3 Big East) outlasted Georgetown for a seven-point win at home. Three days later, Butler (9-6, 1-3) traveled to Washington, D.C., and blasted the Hoyas by 29.

Using Providence as a common foe, however, perhaps DePaul and Butler should be a more competitive game. On Thursday, the Friars won by 20 at Butler before cruising up to Chicago and administering a 15-point bruising to the Blue Demons on New Year’s Day.

“They came out and really brought the fight to us today,” DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said. “I don’t think our guys did a good job of responding to the physicality of the game and the pace of the game.”

Both Butler and DePaul are trying to retool on the fly as they welcome back valuable players into their rotations.

The Bulldogs recently regained the services of transfers Jalen Thomas and Ali Ali.

Head coach Thad Matta has given the powerful Thomas the start in the last two games — and the Georgia State transfer has responded with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in 44 minutes.

The move sent Jayden Taylor to the bench, which apparently inspired him to produce a career-high 24 points against Georgetown that featured 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

Taylor’s outburst was much-needed, as Butler shot just 35.7 percent from the field while dropping each of its first three Big East games by at least 20 points. The Bulldogs hit 50 percent as a squad in the 80-51 blowout win.

DePaul, meanwhile, welcomed back 6-foot-10 center Yor Anei for the last three games after he missed six weeks with a foot issue. Judging by his three blocks and five steals against Providence, he seems to have regained his footing defensively — but he has canned just 1 of 16 shots from the field since returning.

–Field Level Media