INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, playing as a #10 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, faced the #7 seed Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday, March 16 at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Butler senior F Kelan Martin and sophomore G Kamar Baldwin combined for 51 points as the Bulldogs posted a 79-62 win. The Bulldogs (21-13) advance to play the No. 2 seed Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday in the Round of 32.
Butler is now 11-1 in its last 12 NCAA Tournament first-round games.
“It was all about response, and really proud of our seniors for stepping up, owning our huddles and making plays when we needed them. So, we just talked about survive and advance. That’s the nature of March. We knew it was going to be a 40-minute game,” said Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan, who picked up his first NCAA Tournament win as a head coach.
The Bulldogs opened the game with a three from sophomore G Kamar Baldwin that sparked a 21-2 run behind 8-of-11 shooting. A 10-0 Arkansas run in response closed the Butler lead to 21-12 before redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott hit his second three of the game to bring the score to 24-12 with 10:32 remaining in the first half. But the Razorbacks continued to fight back with a 17-3 run that ended with back-to-back threes from senior G Daryl Macon and sophomore G C.J. Jones. The Jones fastbreak three came off a steal and gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the game at 29-27 with 3:48 to play in the first half. A jumper from Kamar Baldwin in response tied the game and started a 9-2 Butler run to close the first half and take a 36-31 halftime lead they would never relinquish.
The Bulldogs shot 41.2% (14-34) from the field in the first half, including 42.9% (6-14) from three. Arkansas finished the first half shooting 35.7% (10-28) from the field, including 30% (3-10) from three.
An And-1 three-point play on a dunk from freshman F Daniel Gafford trimmed the Butler lead to 40-36 with 17:45 remaining in the game. But the Bulldogs responded with back-to-back threes from Sean McDermott and senior F Kelan Martin to take a 46-36 lead with 17:01 remaining. A Kelan Martin dunk pushed the lead to 53-40 at the 12:29 second half mark, but the Razorbacks 7-0 run to trim the lead to 53-47 with 10:17 remaining. Kelan Martin responded with a three before two free throws from Arkansas senior G Jaylen Barford and a Barford lay-up with 8:07 to play pulled the Razorbacks within five at 56-51. Butler responded with an 8-2 run that started with an And-1 three-point play on a layup from Baldwin and finished with a Baldwin three to bring the score to 64-53 with 6:14 remaining. A jumper from Daniel Gafford for Arkansas was answered with another Kamar Baldwin And-1 three point play to give the Bulldogs a 67-55 lead with 4:25 remaining. The And-1 Baldwin score started a 15-7 Butler run to close the game as Kelan Martin hit four free throws down the stretch and scored the last points of the game on a layup with 0:26 remaining.
The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 49.2% (29-59) from the field, including 42.3% (11-26) from three. Arkansas finished the game shooting 35.7% (20-56) from the field, including 22.2% (4-18) from three. The Bulldogs finished with the higher free throw percentage at 83.3% (10-12) compared to Arkansas at 78.3% (18-23).
The Bulldogs won the rebound battle, 45-25, and finished with 15 assists compared to nine for Arkansas. Butler had 14 turnovers compared to seven for Arkansas.
Senior F Kelan Martin scored 27 points on a 9-16 (56.3%) shooting performance, including 5-11 (45.5%) day from three. Martin’s 27 pushed him over 2,000 for his Butler career and he now has 2,018 career points.
Sophomore G Kamar Baldwin finished with 24 points and shot 2-3 from three.
Redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott finished 3-5 from three to post 11 points. He added seven rebounds. Freshman G Aaron Thompson had five points, a game-high seven assists, and a game-high three steals. Baldwin, Martin and senior F Tyler Wideman tied with a game-high nine rebounds.
Barford led Arkansas (23-12) with 15 points.
Sunday’s game time and TV assignment will be announced later Friday evening.
Christopher 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 @CafultzISRand the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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