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Monday, April 4, 2011
Halftime reaction: Butler 22, Connecticut 19

By Eamonn Brennan

Both Connecticut and Butler are shooting below 30 percent thanks to solid defense by both teams.

HOUSTON -- The court is a glistening pane. The stadium is a pristine artifice. The cheerleaders are smiling; the uniforms are cleanly designed. Everything in Reliant Arena is pretty.

Everything, that is, except the offense.

Instead, these two defenses were the story of the first half of the 2011 national championship game, as Butler and Connecticut played a slogging slugfest caused less by bad offense -- although there was plenty of that -- than flawless defensive rotations, great on-ball pressure, deflections and blocks.

Butler leads 22-19 at the half, and were it not for a last-second Shelvin Mack 3, the first 20 minutes would have ended with the score tied at 19.

The pertinent statistic -- 15-of-58 -- is not hard to locate. That's these two teams' combined first-half field goal mark. Why so bad? It's not just missed shots. The reasons:
Keep an eye on the defensive adjustments on both sides going forward. These two teams have shot the ball poorly, but it's not necessarily about nerves or tight rims or simultaneous off nights. We're watching a thoroughly ugly game in a thoroughly pretty setting. But if you like comprehensive defense, there's nothing ugly about it at all.