After reigning supreme in their initial contest, the Butler Bulldogs return to Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (will be referred to as SEMO throughout). Here’s what we know about this game, and how I think it goes down.
Spread: Butler -16.5
TV Network: FS2
Venue: Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse
Southeast Missouri State’s debut
We all know how Butler’s first game went. If you want my thoughts on that game, you can read that here.
This is where I got the thumbnail for this from
As for Southeast Missouri State, they played a Grand Canyon team that is projected to win their conference, and has some legit high major talent. Grand Canyon was able to beat SEMO by 21 points, including an efficient 30-point (10/15 from the field, 2/5 from three, 8/11 FT) performance for former DePaul Blue Demon/Kansas Jayhawk G/F Tyon Grant-Foster.
What We Know about SEMO (Rhyming Intentionally)
Rankings: 5th in OVC in The Almanac, 257 on SI (Fourth in OVC), 312 on KenPom (6th in OVC), 324 on Torvik (8th in OVC), 306 on Haslam
Last Season: Southeast Missouri State ended the season at 19-17 (10-8 in OVC), but had a very good run in the OVC Tournament, leading them to a First Four Appearance which they lost to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SEMO loses their three leading scorers from last season, who combined to average 43.7PPG for the Redhawks. Star Guard Phillip Russell is their most important loss, as he averaged a team-leading 18.1PPG, 5.1APG and 1.6 steals per game.
However, SEMO returns nine players who played on the NCAA Tournament team, including four guys who averaged between 7.5 and 6.6PPG, and the team’s two leading rebounders. This SEMO team should have a fairly balanced attack, without any one dominant star player.
A transfer expected to step into a similar role that Russell leaves is Indiana State transfer Rob Martin. Martin is a lightning-quick guard who will likely run the show for this SEMO team. He’s aggressive and will look to push the pace as often as he can. He didn’t play much in his lone season at Indiana State but will look to recapture some of the momentum he had in high school at SEMO.
Of their returners, I would expect Josh Earley inside to be a key option for the Redhawks. Earley transferred in from Tulsa for his senior season and is now in his COVID year. The 6’7” big man had the best season of his college career, averaging 7.5PPG and 5REB a game, shooting 59.1% from the field.
Lastly, when he was healthy Georgetown transfer Kobe Clark played a big role on this SEMO team. He’s not an efficient scorer, but he’s an energizer bunny and will come down with some rebounds that will really surprise you. Before he went down with a torn ACL in January (he played in SEMO’s debut this season), he averaged 8.7 rebounds per game, which pretty comfortably led the team.
This game should not present many troubles for Butler. This is a backcourt that is still finding itself for SEMO (though they did shoot over 52% from three against Grand Canyon, they did that and still lost by 20+) and a smaller frontcourt that Butler should be able to handle.
Tyon Grant-Foster was able to attack this team on the wings, so I would expect Butler’s wings, Pierre Brooks and Jahmyl Telfort, to have another huge game. SEMO doesn’t have the one dynamic offensive threat that EMU had in Acuff, which is another advantage Butler should have. Butler has matchup advantages in many spots and should be able to expose SEMO on both ends.
Despite SEMO shooting 11/21 from three in their debut, the Redhawks only return one shooter, Adam Larson (who was their leading scorer in game one off the bench with three made threes), who shot above 34.5% from three last season. Plus, if you shoot over 50% from three and still get blown out, that says a lot about how uncompetitive the game really was.
Another thing to note about SEMO is that they really like to push the pace. In the last two seasons under coach Brad Korn, the Redhawks have finished 14 and 7 in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric, averaging 76.4 possessions per game last season.
That should really play into Butler's favor. Butler is the more talented team at every position and presents real problems for this SEMO team. SEMO had 17 turnovers in their first game and with Butler’s pressure defense, headed by defensive star Posh Alexander, Butler should give the Redhawks fits all game long.
This is a great spot for Butler. I think the Dogs are on 100 watch. This game will be fast-paced, there should be many highlights and Butler should look really good. Butler should make this one look about as easy as they did against EMU.
Despite bringing back their two leading rebounders from a season ago, SEMO wasn’t an elite rebounding team. Their rebounding rate was higher than Butler’s who ranked 353 a season ago (out of 363 which… yikes), but they only ranked 285 in the country.
They play fast, something that plays towards Butler and were out of control, which Butler can advantage of. All the numbers have them in the 300’s for a reason. Where both the Almanac and SI trust Coach Brad Korn to have it going in March, it’s November right now and this team still has a lot to prove.
Butler Rolls here.
Butler 96, SEMO 68