INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Butler’s unselfishness translated into a healthy balanced attack.
Bryce Golden scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting Saturday to lead No. 18 Butler to a 66-41 romp over Southern. Also in double figures for the Bulldogs (10-1) were Sean McDermott with 11 points on 3-of-5 3-point shooting and Khalif Battle with 10. Twelve Bulldogs played and 11 scored.
Aaron Thompson had eight points and eight assists for the Bulldogs, who extended the nation’s longest nonconference home winning streak to 57.
“We have a really unselfish group,” Thompson said. “No one cares who takes the shot.”
Kamar Baldwin, Butler’s leading scorer with 17.1 average entering the game, missed his first six shots before finally scoring with 10:49 remaining in the second half. Baldwin finished with two points on 1-of-8 shooting and five assists and three steals.
“He gets a lot of attention,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “The shots weren’t falling. He missed some open 3s he usually makes. He played a good floor game. He didn’t force it and found the open man.”
Jordan said the beauty of his team is everyone has the potential to have a breakout game.
“They do the work and equip themselves with the confidence and skill for when your time comes you are ready,” Jordan said. “Nobody cares who scores. We talk about moving the basketball and hitting the open man. They look for each other, share the ball and stay connected.”
Isaiah Rollins topped Southern (3-8) with 13 points.
After sitting out the first 10 games with a knee injury, graduate transfer Derrik Smits finally made his debut with Butler. Smits, a 7-foot-1 center who played at Valparaiso and son of ex-Indiana Pacers star Rik Smits, scored his basket with 11:46 left in the second half, drawing huge applause. Smits had two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
“I feel pretty good but I’m not back to where I was prior (the injuries),” Smits said. “I just got to keep working. The more practices I’ve had the better I’ve felt.”
Redshirt freshman forward Markeese Hastings also made his season debut after offseason hip surgery, scoring two points in nearly three minutes.
Butler never trailed, scoring the first eight points. The Bulldogs shot 46% to lead 34-16 at halftime while the Jaguars shot just 25%. For the game, Butler hit 45% and Southern 28%. The Bulldogs forced 18 turnovers.
“They don’t make any mistakes,” Southern coach Sean Woods said. “They don’t gamble a lot. They do two things really well, they defend the 3 and two, they keep the ball out of the paint.”
Jordan was not entirely happy with his team — specifically, 13 turnovers.
“We have a ton of things to clean up,” he said. “We still have put together a full 40 (minutes) and that’s the challenge each time out, getting better every day and see if we can find that moment when we put it all together on the same day.”
Butler's lone loss this season came Tuesday at No. 11 Baylor. The Bulldogs’ ranking isn’t likely to change much.
Southern coach Sean Woods is a 1988 Indianapolis Cathedral graduate.
“It’s always good coming home,” said Woods, who played in college at Kentucky. “I played my last high school game in this building, so I have fond memories of Hinkle Fieldhouse since the time I was a freshman moving from East Chicago, Ind. It was good to bring my team here.”
Southern: The Louisiana school lost its fourth game in a row. The Jaguars have had just two home games, the last one Nov. 18. They don’t have another home date until Jan. 11 against Grambling State.
Butler: The Bulldogs have victories over Minnesota, Missouri, Stanford, Mississippi and Florida.
Southern is set for a two-game California swing with games at California Baptist Wednesday at UC Santa Barbara on Friday.
Butler faces Purdue on Saturday in the annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.