Butler knew this exhibition trip to Australia wouldn’t be an easy one, which is a big reason why they decided to take such an adventure. The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 in Australia and escaped with an 82-76 victory in comeback fashion, thanks to solid play from the starters and a few nice surprises off the bench.
Down 19-16 after the first period and 43-37 at half, head coach Brandon Miller made some adjustments and his Bulldogs outscored the Sydney Kings 45-33 in the final two quarters.
The Sydney Kings may have gotten three players to score 18-plus points, but it was Butler’s consistent scoring from its starters and a few key members off the bench that fueled the second half takeover.
James Harvey of the Sydney Kings led all with a game-high 20 points, while Brad Hill had 19 and Tom Garlepp added 18 points, four boards and three blocks. Jarred Weeks (8) and Ben Allen (6) accounted for the rest of SK’s points.
The Kings kept themselves afloat mainly by knocking down 28 of their 36 free throw attempts (78%). A dismal 4-of-17 from the three-point line (24%) played a big part in their second half collapse.
Butler had a pretty balanced scoring attack, mainly from 4/5 of its starting five. Erik Fromm produced another great game with a team-high 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Khyle Marshall put together a smooth display with 14 points and 7 rebounds, while nailing six of his eight attempts from the floor. Kameron Woods had a double-double, scoring 11 points and bringing down 15 rebounds to go along with three assists and a pair of blocks. Kellen Dunham didn’t shoot well at all, but still was able to get himself into double-digit scoring with 10 points. Dunham surely has the green light to shoot at-will, but was 5-for-22 overall and a disappointing 0-of-11 from three-point range.
Even with the game being close throughout, Miller hesitated none is utilizing every bit of his bench. The Bulldogs were able to get 29 points off the bench, almost duplicating their bench play (31 points) in Tuesday’s win over Norths Bears. The coming home party for Jackson Aldridge got even better in Butler’s second game of the tour. He scored 11 points in just 17 minutes of action off the bench.
Devontae Morgan pitched in with seven points, four rebounds and three steals. Freshman Elijah Brown (Los Angeles, CA/Mater Dei), son of Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown, had six points on a couple field goals. Andrew Smeathers (3) and Andrew Chrabascz (2) rounded out Butler’s scoring. Rene Castro, Michael Volovic, Elliot Kampen, Nolan Berry and Steven Bennett all played, but did not score.
One thing that wasn’t addressed following Tuesday’s win over Norths Bears was the injury to junior Roosevelt Jones. He left their trip-opening win with an injury to his left wrist and was forced to sit out. Jones’ status is uncertain for the remaining two games of the Australian tour.
Next on the exhibition slate for Butler is the Australian National Team called the Canberra Boomers. This is where things could get interesting on the trip. The Boomers have four players that could pose quite a test for the Bulldogs. One good thing is that they’re pretty familiar with former Saint Louis forward Cody Ellis, as they faced him three different times in Atlantic 10 play this past season. Recent St. Mary’s grad Matthew Dellavedova is also on the Canberra roster. They also have a little NBA flavor with a couple San Antonio Spurs in Patrick “Patty” Mills (Indigenous Australia/St. Mary’s) and Aron Baynes (Gisborne, New Zealand/Washington State).
Butler and Canberra will take to the court in Canberra against the Australian National Team on Saturday, August 10.