Allowing just 24 points in the second half on Friday night, Butler defeated Cross Creek in the Augusta Thanksgiving Basketball Classic, 92-54, at Richmond Academy.
"Mental mistakes have killed our defense so far this season," Butler coach Rob Johnson said after his team's second win over the Razorbacks this season. "In the first half we had some mental mistakes, but we came out in the second half and were able to shut them down."
Leading 43-30 at the half, Butler opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run and outscored Cross Creek 21-8 in the quarter. The Bulldogs didn't allow a basket for almost four minutes, and the turnovers they forced allowed their offense to score at will.
In firm control with a 64-38 lead after three quarters, Butler finished things off with 28 points in the final period.
"Both schools have an up-tempo style of play," Johnson said. "I thought we did an excellent job of getting organized in the half court. That was a definite key for us tonight."
In the first half, momentum shifted toward Butler with the score tied at 11-11 when Cross Creek's Jeff McReynolds slammed home a dunk to tie the game but was called for a technical foul for slapping the backboard to pump up the crowd. Butler held its ground to take a 20-13 lead the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs started the second quarter with a 9-3 run, but Cross Creek stayed in range by scoring 17 points in the final six minutes of the half, capped by a half-court buzzer beater by Desmond Walters, who led all scorers with 20 points.
But Butler did not give up the lead, as Tyrese Harris scored 10 of his 16 points in the second quarter in his season debut after the football team's run to the playoffs.
"Tyrese is a difference maker," Johnson said. "He plays so hard, and he will help out underneath with rebounding as well."