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Former Butler standout Cornette dies at age 35

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The Butler basketball community has suffered another terrible loss.

Joel Cornette, who played with the Bulldogs from 1999-2003, died Tuesday morning at the age of 35.

“This morning, we spoke with the Cornette Family, who has confirmed that their beloved son and brother, Joel, passed away early this morning due to natural causes,” the school said in a statement. “They are shocked and devastated by this news. The Butler Family also mourns the loss of one of our favorite Bulldogs.”

Cornette played on three NCAA tournament teams, including a Sweet 16 berth in 2003, while at Butler. He was a 1,000-point career scorer and led the Bulldogs in rebounding in three seasons. After his playing career, he went on to stints coaching at Butler and Iowa before becoming an agent to NBA players.

His passing comes just months after Butler lost 25-year-old Andrew Smith to cancer in January. Smith was at Butler from 2009-13 and played in both of the school’s Final Four appearances.

GW transfer Jorgensen to Butler

Chris Holtmann
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Butler has added experience and talent to its backcourt of the future.

George Washington transfer Paul Jorgensen is headed to Indianapolis and coach Chris Holtmann, he announced Wednesday afternoon.

“Growing up, Butler was the school that I always wanted and dreamed about playing there,” Jorgensen, a New York native, told the Indianapolis Star.

The 6-foot-2 guard will have to sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining, which will allow him to step into a backcourt that will be thin on experience come 2017-18. He averaged 15.7 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Colonials, scoring 4.9 points and dishing out 2.1 assists.

He’ll join former GW teammate Kethan Savage at Butler. Savage joined the Bulldogs before last season and will be eligible in 2016-17.

Butler went 22-11 overall and 10-8 in the Big East with an NCAA tournament Round of 32 appearance last season.

Butler’s Chris Holtmann gets students free coffee during final exams

Chris Holtmann
Associated Press
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The college basketball schedule is light this week thanks to many schools having to navigate final exams, and this can be a stressful time. So for those wishing to either relax or refuel for more studying, what’s better than a free drink from a local coffeeshop (those “adult” beverages may not help with studying)?

That’s what Butler students who took up head coach Chris Holtmann on his offer of a free drink from Starbucks received Monday. Holtmann sent out the word via his Twitter account on Monday, and numerous students took him up on his offer that afternoon. And he seemed a bit surprised by just how many students made the trek.

Everyone likes free stuff, most especially college students. Good luck to everyone going through final exams this week.

VIDEO: Butler beats No. 17 Cincinnati on Roosevelt Jones shot

Roosevelt Jones
Associated Press
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While the Big Ten/ACC Challenge has received most of the attention this week, one of the better games on Wednesday’s slate matched teams from the Big East and American Athletic Conference. Butler and No. 17 Cincinnati did not disappoint, and the outcome would not be determined until the game’s final second.

Roosevelt Jones managed to corral a pass from Austin Etherington despite being surrounded by two Cincinnati defenders, then dribbled to his left and made a runner off glass with one tenth of a second remaining. The shot gave Butler the 78-76 win and a result that will look good on their résumé as the season progresses.

Jones, who made two important free throws to give Butler a 74-73 lead with 42 seconds remaining, finished the night with ten points and five rebounds. Kellen Dunham led five Bulldogs in double figures with 24 points, and Butler’s 16-5 edge in points off turnovers was a factor as well.

Jacob Evans and Octavius Ellis, whose three-point play with 4.7 seconds remaining tied the game at 76, led the Bearcats with 16 points apiece and Ellis also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Video credit: CBS Sports Network

Angel Rodriguez, Miami take home Puerto Rico Tipoff title

Angel Rodriguez
Associated Press
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Miami’s depth and talent were certainly on display this weekend as they won the Puerto Rico Tipoff, beating No. 22 Butler 85-75 in Sunday’s title game. And it was clear all weekend that their hopes of contending in the ACC this season will ultimately hinge on the play of senior point guard Angel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez produced more positive plays than negative all weekend in San Juan, performing well in his return to the island he calls home. And if Jim Larrañaga’s team is to make a run at their first ACC title since 2013, that will have to be the case as the Hurricanes play in even bigger games when conference play begins.

Rodriguez accounted for 17 points and three assists, but he also had four turnovers with three coming during a second-half stretch in which Butler mounted its rally. The first half for Miami was, when factoring in the caliber of the opponent, as good a half of basketball they’ve played all year. Even better than what they did in the first half of the win over Mississippi State on Thursday, because Butler is a team that will hear its name called Selection Sunday.

The Hurricanes’ length and athleticism caused problems for Butler at both ends of the floor, as the Bulldogs shot 40.7 percent from the field, and Miami was able to shoot 52.9 percent. Half of Miami’s 18 first half field goals were assisted, with Butler’s help side defenders paying the price for being too quick to help in an attempt to take away driving lanes.

Tonye Jekiri accounted for eight points and seven rebounds, finishing with 12 and 12, and backup point guard Ja’Quan Newton scored eight of his 17 and dished out three assists during the first stanza. Whatever Miami wanted to get done they were able to in the first half, leading by as much as 19 and taking a 13-point lead into the break.

Butler improved on both ends of the floor in the second half, and with Miami not playing with the same efficiency the Bulldogs were able to climb back into the game. Managing the game is where point guard play comes in, which is why Rodriguez is the most important piece for Miami as they look to compete with the likes of North Carolina, Duke and Virginia atop the ACC.

When he’s on Rodriguez can be one of the ACC’s top point guards, and by extension the Hurricanes are an ACC contender. But when he struggles, even with their depth the Hurricanes have the appearance of a team that’s a bit scattered on the court. Outside of a few minutes Sunday night Miami got “good Rodriguez” in Puerto Rico, and as a result they head back to the mainland with the Puerto Rico Tipoff trophy in tow.

And if this group is to have a chance of reaching the heights last seen by Shane Larkin and company, that will have to be the case during ACC play as well.

No. 24 Butler tallies 144 points in win over The Citadel

Kellen Dunham
Associated Press
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The process of installing a new system can be a difficult one, especially when doing so at a program that hasn’t experienced much success in recent years. That’s what Duggar Baucom, in his first season as head coach at The Citadel, is faced with as he looks to build the program into one that pressures full court and plays fast for 40 minutes. Saturday night the Bulldogs took on No. 24 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and things got bad in a hurry.

Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs, picked to finish third in the Big East’s preseason coaches poll, didn’t have much trouble breaking The Citadel press and found plenty of quality scoring opportunities as a result. But even with that being the case, Butler managing to score 144 points in a 73-point victory (144-71) was a shocking development.

The point total represents the most scored in a game matching Division I teams since TCU scored 153 in a win over UT-Pan American (now UT-Rio Grande Valley) in 1997 according to ESPN Stats & Information. Butler shot 63.6 percent from the field, and that percentage includes an 8-for-26 night from beyond the arc. While the perimeter shots weren’t falling at the rate Butler would have liked, they found so many looks around the basket after breaking The Citadel pressure that it didn’t matter.

How easy did Butler find it to get into the paint? They finished the game with a staggering 92 points in the paint.

Kellen Dunham scored 22 of his team-high 24 points in the first half, with Jackson Davis (eight rebounds) scoring 19 points, Roosevelt Jones (11 rebounds, four assists) and Tyler Wideman (six rebounds) adding 18 apiece and Tyler Lewis accounting for 17 to go along with three assists. All 12 Butler players scored at least two points, with seven of the 12 finishing in double figures.

While Butler should be better offensively thanks in part to the addition of NC State transfer Lewis, they’re unlikely to have it this easy in any game they play the remainder of the season.

As for The Citadel, these growing pains come with the work of establishing a new style of play. Baucom’s going to continue to work towards remaking the program in the image he wants, and that’s going to lead to some tough nights. But even with Saturday’s result being what it was, don’t expect him to suddenly back away from looking to force the tempo on both ends of the floor.