No. 24 Butler wary of DePaul in rematch

INDIANAPOLIS — DePaul has a mere one Big East victory but the Blue Demons certainly gave Butler all it can handle in their first meeting this season.

DePaul led Butler 25-5 the first time around before the Bulldogs rallied for a 70-69 overtime victory on Jan. 21. Butler’s largest lead in the game was two points.

“We have to get ready for a DePaul that absolutely wore us out,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “They physically manhandled us.”

The No. 24 Bulldogs (20-6, 9-5 in the Big East) will host DePaul (8-18, 1-12) at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

It will be a big contrast to Butler’s 110-86 rout of St. John’s on Wednesday night.

“This will be a completely different game (from St. John’s),” said Holtmann, whose Bulldogs are 12-2 at home this season. “You talk about adapting styles. That’s a completely different style.”

The 110 points were the most the Bulldogs have scored in their four years in the Big East. Butler’s teams in the past were better known for grinding out victories and playing a little more deliberate pace.

“The best teams can match up with a lot of different opponents,” Holtmann said. “We’re trying to build team that can play a lot of different styles.”

Holtmann said it’s a growth process.

“We’re getting better at understanding the tempo we need to play,” Holtmann said. “We’re just trying to get our team’s best shot each possession. If they are so extended that our team’s best shot is a wide-open 3 because they’ve had to over-help, then we’re going to take it.”

Butler senior forward Andrew Chrabascz, who averages 11.9 points, said the important thing is the Bulldogs have to take what opposing teams are giving them.

“When a team presses like (St.John’s) was, that opens up the court completely and we’ve got shooters that are going to hit those,” Chrabascz said.

Butler junior forward Kelan Martin, who averages a team-high 15.5 points, scored 19 points against St. John’s after scoring only a total of 20 points in the previous three games.

“It’s definitely good to see him get back to playing well,” graduate transfer Avery Woodson said. “I don’t really worry about Kelan. He’s fearless. He’s very confident. So I knew he would get back to it.”

Sophomore guard Eli Cain leads the Blue Demons with 15.8 scoring average, followed by senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. at 14.8.

This is the fourth consecutive game DePaul has played against a team that was ranked in the Top 25. Host DePaul lost to No. 2 Villanova 75-62 on Monday night.

The Blue Demons previously lost to Creighton and Xavier, which was ranked at the time.

To beat a ranked team, DePaul coach Dave Leitao said his players have be physically tough and mentally on top of their game.

“As we go through this process of getting our guys to believe in what we’re doing and getting through this very difficult stretch we’re in, they will come out of it with that same kind of mindset,” Leitao said.

“In spite of playing the (reigning) national champion (Villanova) or all that stuff, this is what we signed up for, this is what we all signed up for. You’ve got to embrace it, you’ve got to love it and you’ve got to perform in it.”