If there were a campaign selling the Jayhawk Conference rearrangement that had teams playing December conference games, Craig Fletchall most likely would not have cut a commercial in favor of it.
He might be rethinking that now.
His Barton men’s basketball team has played two December road conference games. The Cougars are 2-0.
Barton made it two straight road wins Saturday with a 67-56 win in the Power Plant against Butler. Not only did it move Barton to 2-0 in the conference but it snapped Butler’s 26-game home court winning streak. It also put an end to the Grizzlies 9-game winning streak.
The Cougars are 10-3 overall. Butler fell to 1-1 in the Jayhawk and 9-4. The Cougars are one of four teams in the conference still unbeaten. Hutchinson and Colby are 3-0 while Seward and Barton are 2-0.
“Anytime you can get a road win the conference it is nice,” Coach Fletchall said. “To start the year at 2-0 with both games on the road is great for us.”
Barton took control of the game early in the second half then kept Butler just far enough at bay the rest of the way.
Barton opened with the first four points on the second half to take a 27-23 lead. The Cougars would not trail again.
Most of the second half was spent with Barton building its lead near 10 points and Butler cutting it down. Barton took a 41-32 with 13 minutes to play on a Derek Dorn jumper. Butler whittled it to 45-40.
Barton took it double digits on an Anthony Smith shot clock-beating 3-pointer with seven minutes to play at 51-40. Butler cut it to 55-51 with 2:39 left.
That, however, would be the final push for the Grizzlies. A pair of Dorn free throws ended the Butler run and started a 9-1 Barton run, capped by a 3-of-4 effort from the line from Dorn to put the game away.
“We played pretty well in the second half,” Coach Fletchall said. “It was never comfortable on the sideline but we never fell behind. We were in control most of the way in the second half and responded every time they made a run at us.”
The scoring could not get much more balance at the top with four Cougars scoring 12 or 13 points. Smith and Keith Mack each scored 13 to paced the Cougars while Dequandre Dentmond and Dorn both added 12.
Dentmond continued his terrific play with 11 boards as well. The freshman from Lansing, Mich. has been in double figures five of the past six games and had double figures rebounds in four of the past seven.
Another key stat was Barton’s dominance in the paint. The Cougars outscored the Grizzlies 32-14 in the paint. The Cougars defense held Butler to just 29 percent shooting.
Barton will get the week off before playing its final game of the first semester. Barton will play host to the Cowley Tigers Saturday in a rare afternoon game at the Barton Gym.
The Cougars and Tigers will tip at 3:30 p.m. Cowley is 1-2 in the Jayhawk and 9-5 overall. The Tigers have beaten Cloud County and lost to league unbeatens Seward and Colby.
“It certainly won’t mean as much starting off with two road wins if we don’t protect our home court,” Coach Fletchall said. “It is the final game before a long break. If we can beat Cowley, we can go to break 3-0 in the conference. That would be a very good start for this group.”