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Butler Bulldogs Blow by No. 24/24 Seton Hall

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, looking for a second win against nationally-ranked Seton Hall this season, put together a solid defensive effort and an dominate offensive performance to beat the #24/24 Seton Hall Pirates, 77-57, in a BIG EAST Conference game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday (Jan. 25). It was Butler’s biggest margin of victory ever over a team ranked in the “Top 25,” and it lifted the Bulldogs to 15-6 on the season and 5-3 in conference play.

Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz led five Butler players in double-figures with a game high 16 points, including 15 in the first half. Junior guard Kellen Dunham chipped in with 15 points, junior guard Roosevelt Jones had 12 points, senior guard Alex Barlow finished with 11 points and 8 assists, and freshman guard Kelan Martin came off the bench with 10 points.

The game saw the Bulldogs lead by double-figures in the first half, trail in the second half and then rally for their biggest margin of victory in the BIG EAST this season. Butler was plagued by poor free throw shooting in the first half, shooting 30.8% (4-of-13), but made up for it in the second half at the defensive end and with a solid shooting performance from the field. The Bulldogs finished shooting 49.1% (27-of-55) from the field, 41.2% (7-of-17) from three and limited Seton Hall to just 36.7% (22-of-60) from the field, 16.7% (4-of-24) from the three in the game.

“It takes a little bit of maturity in situations like that when the game doesn’t go like you’d like it to go, particularly on the free throw line,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann of his team’s struggles late in the first half. “You’ve got to be able to overcome that and have enough inner stuff to get on to the next play.”

Chrabascz scored Butler’s first seven points in the game and sparked the Bulldogs to a 25-12 advantage in the first 12 minutes of the contest, but the visiting Pirates went on a 16-4 run, thanks in part to Butler’s 4-13 shooting effort at the free throw line, and cut the margin to a single point just before halftime. Barlow nailed a three-point field goal with seven seconds left to give Butler a 32-28 halftime lead.

“You have to give Seton Hall credit for the way they executed in the first half. They took advantage of some things in the first half that they game-planned for and bothered us. And some of our loose plays affected that,” pointed out Holtmann. “Having said that, I don’t what to take anything away from our guys’ effort today. We had a lot of really, really good possessions in this game and I’m proud of the way we performed.”

The Pirates opened the second half with a 9-2 run, capped by a three-point field goal by Brandon Mobley, to take a 37-34 lead. It would be the last lead of the game for nationally-ranked visitors.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Andrew Chrabascz (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Andrew Chrabascz (John Fetcho)

Butler senior forward Kameron Woods came up with a conventional three-point play to tie the game at 37-37, igniting Butler’s biggest run of the game. The Bulldogs ran off nine unanswered points to take a 46-37 lead, and then scored 15 of the game’s next 18 points to grab a 21-point advantage, 61-40.

Six different Butler players had a hand in the early second half run, with freshman guard Kelan Martin leading the way with seven points. Jones added six.

Butler stretched the lead to as many as 25 points late in the game, before settling for the 20-point victory.

The Bulldogs shot 50% (15-of-30) from the field in the final 20 minutes. That helped offset a 16-31 (51.6%) performance from the charity stripe. Butler out-scored the Pirates, 45-29, in the final 20 minutes, while holding the visitors to their second-lowest final point total of the season.

Mobley led Seton Hall (13-6, 3-4 BIG EAST) with 15 points, while Desi Rodriguez came off the bench with 12 points. The victory gave Butler a regular season sweep over Seton Hall for the second straight year.

Butler’s previous high for margin of victory against a “Top 25” opponent was 18 points in a 77-59 win over #25 UTEP in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs went on to reach the national championship game that year.

The Bulldogs, with wins in four of their last five outings, will have a week off before visiting Marquette on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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