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Butler Bulldogs Defeat Kennesaw State In 2017-2018 Regular Season Opener

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs opened the 2017-2018 men’s basketball regular season on Friday, November 10 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler senior F Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 20 points and tied for a game-high nine rebounds in the 82-64 win over the Kennesaw State Owls. Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan is now 1-0 following his coaching debut.

“We did a great job out of the gates tonight,” said LaVall Jordan, the Butler alum and former assistant coach who was named the 24th head coach in Butler men’s basketball history on June 12. “Our energy, focus and communication were exactly what we wanted early and we were able to get out and run a little bit. We had a lapse early in the second half, but we were able to right the ship. Our goal is to make the whole game look like the first seven minutes of this one.”

The Bulldogs wasted no time racking up the points against Kennesaw State. After winning the opening tip, the Bulldogs hit the scoreboard first with a corner three from redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen. The first Kennesaw State possession ended in a steal by senior F Tyler Wideman, who led the fast break and finished on the And-1 one-hand slam. Wideman converted the And-1 free throw. The next possession for the Owls led to a steal by sophomore G Kamar Baldwin. The ball found its way to senior F Kelan Martin in transition, who stopped at the corner wing to nail a three to give Butler a 9-0 lead at the 18:44 mark in the first half. Kennesaw State found the scoreboard on a pair of free throws at the 18:17 mark before a steal by redshirt sophomore G/F Sean McDermott led to a Tyler Wideman fast break layup, giving Butler the 12-2 double digit lead with 17:45 remaining before halftime.

Sophomore G/F Henry Baddley pushed the lead back to 10 on an And-1 layup. Baddley was unable to convert the And-1 free throw, but Kelan Martin grabbed the miss and was fouled on a drive to the lane. Martin hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts to extend the lead to 15-4 with 16:53 remaining in the first half. Minutes later, Martin connected on a three to extend the Butler lead to 20-4 at the 16:03 first half mark. A steal and layup by Jorgensen was followed up by a Baddley layup to bring the lead to 20 points at 28-8 with 12:56 remaining in the first half. A Tyler Wideman layup on an assist from freshman G Aaron Thompson gave Butler a 23-point lead at 32-9 at the 11:07 first half mark. After a steal by Baldwin that led to a fast break two-hand monster jam by Wideman, Kelan Martin connected on a third first half three to give Butler a 25-point lead at 37-12 with 7:09 remaining before the break. Sophomore F/C Joey Brunk would score on a fast break put-back dunk and junior C Nate Fowler would score on a three as the Butler big men helped the Bulldogs take a 48-24 lead into halftime

Butler finished the first half shooting 56.3% (18-32) from the field, including 38.5% (5-13) from three. Kennesaw State finished at 29.6% (8-27) from the field in the first half, including 37.5% (3-8) from three. Butler scored 22 points off of 10 Kennesaw State turnovers while giving up two points on five turnovers. Kelan Martin led all scorers with 12 points including a 3-5 performance from three.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Redshirt Junior Guard Paul Jorgensen

Kelan Martin responded to an Owls layup from sophomore G James Scott to open the second half scoring with a layup from the low post block. The Owls continued a strong second half start with an 10-0 that cut the Butler lead 50-36 with 15:54 remaining. The Bulldogs got a jumper from Jorgensen and a three from Baldwin, his first points of the game, to bring the lead to 55-36 with 14:43 remaining. But the Owls responded with five points of their own, including a three from James Scott. Shortly after, the Owls received back-to-back threes from Scott to trim the lead to 10 at 57-47 with 12:08 remaining. But Butler was there to answer with a 10-1 run immediately following the three pointers from Scott. The run gave Butler 67-48 lead with 7:59 remaining in the game. Butler was able to extend the lead back to 20 at 76-56 on a jumper by Jorgensen with 3:58 remaining. With the game in hand, Head Coach LaVall Jordan emptied his bench in the final minutes as Joey Brunk scored the last four Butler points. A fourth three from James Scott gave the Owls the final points of the game with 0:30 seconds remaining before the final horn blew on an 82-64 Butler win.

The Bulldogs finished at 50% (32-64) shooting from the field, including 24% (6-25) from three. Kennesaw State finished at 40.7% (22-54) from the field, including 50% (9-18) from three, Butler finished at 52.2% (12-23) from the free throw line while the Owls finished at 57.9% (11-19).

The Bulldogs scored 29 points off 17 Owls turnovers while surrendering 10 points off of 11 Butler turnovers. The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 39-30 and received 28 bench points compared to 22 for the Owls.

Butler’s big men dominated inside as the Bulldogs had a 50-16 advantage in points in the paint.  Senior F Tyler Wideman had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while junior C Nate Fowler made four of his five attempts for nine points. Sophomore F/C Joey Brunk went 3-for-4 from the field to post six points. Each of the trio had four rebounds.

Senior F Kelan Martin finished with a team-high 20 points on a 6-15 performance, including 3-9 from three. Martin finished tied for a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman G Aaron Thompson had seven points and a game-high five assists in his Butler debut. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen had 14 points, four assists and a game-high three steals for the Bulldogs

Kennesaw State got a game-high 26 points from James Scott. He went 10-of-19 from the field, including 4-9 from three.

The Bulldogs have now won 36 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents.

Butler has a quick turnaround as Princeton comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday for a 6 PM ET tip. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.

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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