Cronin, No. 22 Bearcats brace for No. 16 Butler

University of Cincinnati basketball coach Mick Cronin is a big admirer of the way Butler conducts its program.

“They're really good every year because they play the game the right way,” Cronin said. “They run their program the right way. They have great continuity the way they do things. They understand why they're successful, and they stick with it from their administration on down.”

The No. 22 Bearcats (7-1) will face the No. 16 Bulldogs (8-1) at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Butler nipped host Cincinnati 78-76 last season.

The approach is especially important on the court.

“On the floor, all the things that are hard for young kids to do that go into winning, they're willing to do them,” Cronin said. “They're not gonna win every game, but they're really hard to beat. Obviously, they're gonna be a tough out at home especially.”

Cronin said the Bulldogs have good talent.

“(Andrew) Chrabascz is a great college basketball player because he does every well, not just score,” Cronin said. “He's a tough matchup. They have eight guys who I think are really good players and they don't do dumb things. The guys that dribble, dribble. The guys that pass, pass and the guys that should shoot, shoot.

“They give themselves every chance to win by playing really smart. I'm sure their coach will tell you they have to get better just like us, but they try never to make a play that's not a smart play. They play hard and physical but in a clean way.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a 72-71 loss at Indiana State Wednesday night. It was a loss that didn't surprise Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann despite the 8-0 start.

“We've got a long ways to go as far as playing together offensively,” Holtmann said. “The freshmen played like freshmen (against Indiana State). I don't care what anybody says or what the rankings are. This team is a real work in progress. There are a lot of real lessons we can take from (the Indiana State loss).”

Holtmann isn't sure if playing again against a tough team will be good thing or bad thing.

“(The Bearcats) are a very good team,” Holtmann said. “We'll see. The schedule was made for a reason. If we're going to tuck our tails and not get better after a tough game, that's on us. We have to be more tough-minded to know what is ahead of us. We have to get better in practice. That will be our challenge.”

Butler holds a slim 1.4 rebounding advantage over its opponents after Indiana State outrebounded Butler by eight.

“They just out-toughed us,” said Chrabascz, who leads the team with a 5.8 rebounding average.

The Bearcats are outrebounding opponents by six per game.

Chrabascz, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, is averaging 10.9 points, second on the Bulldogs to junior forward Kelan Martin's 17.4 scoring average.

Junior forward Kyle Washington leads the Bearcats with a 17.3 scoring average, followed by sophomore swingman Jacob Evans with 15.6 points per game.