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Butler Bulldogs Take Down No. 1/1 Villanova At Hinkle Fieldhouse

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off a 2OT win at Georgetown, returned to Hinkle Fieldhouse to host the #1/1 Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, December 30. Senior F Kelan Martin scored a team-high 24 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 101-93 win. With the win, Butler is now 12-3 (2-0 BIG EAST). The Bulldogs hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season (13-1, 1-1 BIG EAST).

“That was a lot of fun,” said Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan. “I’m proud of our guys; they brought a level of focus that was our best of the season. They kept connected throughout the entire game. You know Villanova would keep fighting, but we have some fight in us too. Hinkle was absolutely amazing today.”

The Wildcats won the tip and hit first with and pick-and-roll dunk from redshirt freshman F Omari Spellman. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen started his career-day with a layup to tie the game on the first Butler possession. A five-point run, including a three from redshirt junior G/F Mikal Bridges, gave Villanova a 9-5 lead before redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott connected from three to cut the lead to 9-8 with 15:03 remaining in the first half. An And-1 three-point play on a Jorgensen layup gave Butler a 13-11 lead before a dunk by Bridges tied the game at 13-13 with 13:40 in the first half. A three by senior F Kelan Martin answered a three from Villanova redshirt junior F Eric Paschall, but redshirt sophomore G Donte Divincenzo responded with a three to give the Wildcats a 19-17 lead. Another Divincenzo three broke a 23-23 tie at the 8:15 mark before a second Kelan Martin three tied the game again at 28-28 with 7:00 to go in the first half. The Martin three sparked a 9-0 Butler run as sophomore G Kamar Baldwin answered with back-to-back makes from deep to give the Bulldogs a 34-28 lead at the 5:53 first half mark. Villanova trimmed the lead to 36-35 on a three from Spellman, but the Bulldogs caught fire from distance to close out the first half. Paul Jorgensen connected on his first make from three to extend the lead to 39-35 with 3:19 remaining. A second Jorgensen three brought the score to 42-37 in favor of Butler before a third Baldwin three brought the score to 45-40 with 1:49 remaining in the first half. Jorgensen scored the next points of the game with a third make from three. A Bridges dunk was answered with a corner three from sophomore G Henry Baddley to push the lead to 51-42 with 0:47 remaining in the first half. Junior G Jalen Brunson connected on a three for Villanova before Baddley connected on a baseline jumper as time expired in the first half. The 11-5 Butler run in the final 1:47 of the first half brought the Butler lead to 53-45 at halftime.

Butler finished the first half shooting 57.1% (20-35) from the field, including 58.8% (10-17) from three. Villanova finished the first half shooting 54.3% (19-35) from the field, including 36.8% (7-19) from three. The Bulldogs held Villanova to zero free throw attempts in the first half and held a slight 18-15 rebound advantage. Both teams had nine assists, three turnovers and two steals at the break. Paul Jorgensen led all scorers with 16 first half points.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Hinkle Fieldhouse December 30, 2017

Switching rims made for no problems as Paul Jorgensen opened the second half scoring with a fourth three to give Butler a 56-45 lead with 19:43 remaining in the game. An 11-3 Butler run to open the second half, including the Jorgensen three, gave the Bulldogs a 64-48 lead before a three from Brunson cut the Butler lead to 64-51 with 14:58 remaining in the game. Butler answered with a 9-2 run capped off by a second Sean McDermott three to give the Bulldogs a 20-point lead at 73-53 with 12:05 remaining in the game. A third three from Kelan Martin was followed by a second Baddley three to extend the Butler lead to 23 at 81-58 with 10:23 remaining in the game. An And-1 three-point play by Kelan Martin off an offensive rebound and layup gave Butler a 22-point lead at 84-62 with 8:37 remaining in the game.

But the #1/1 Villanova Wildcats would not go away easily. Five straight points on a three and a dunk by Mikal Bridges sparked a 14-0 Villanova run over 3:13 of play. With the score now trimmed to eight at 84-76 with 5:05 remaining, Kelan Martin grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled on a drive to the rim. Martin hit two free throws in the bonus to bring the lead back to double-digits at 86-76 with 4:13 remaining in the game. A fourth Martin three and an offensive rebound and layup from senior F Tyler Wideman gave Butler a 91-80 lead with 2:40 remaining in the game, but the Wideman layup was immediately answered with a dunk from Eric Paschall. Mikal Bridges scored the next points of the game on his third three to cut the Butler lead to 91-85 with 2:05 remaining. With the score at 93-87, Jalen Brunson stole a Kamar Baldwin pass and was sent to the line on a foul by Butler freshman G Aaron Thompson. Brunson missed his one-and-one free throw and McDermott grabbed the rebound. Kelan Martin splashed home a clutch jumper with 1:03 remaining on the next possession to give Butler a 95-87 lead. Villanova fouls sent Butler to the line as Martin and McDermott hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 99-90 with 0:32 remaining before Brunson connected on a fourth three to cut the lead to 99-93 with 0:26 remaining. After a full timeout by Villanova, a Bridges foul sent Kamar Baldwin to the line as he knocked down a pair of free throws for a 101-93 lead with 0:20 remaining. Villanova missed its next three shot attempts from three in the final seconds as the Bulldogs came away with the 101-93 win.

Butler finished the game shooting 60% (36-60) from the field, including 68.2% (15-22) from three. Villanova finished at 53.5% (38-71) from the field, including 34.3% (12-35) from three. Butler won the rebound battle, 37-26, and took a 20-15 assist advantage.

Butler gave up 14 points off of 13 turnovers while only scoring four points on four Villanova turnovers. Villanova out-scored Butler in the paint, 52-30.

Senior F Kelan Martin scored a team-high 24 points on a 7-12 (58.3%) performance from the field, including 4-4 from three. It was Martin’s ninth 20-point game of the season and his ninth time leading the Bulldogs in scoring.

Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen scored a career-high 23 points, with 16 coming in the first half. Jorgensen’s career day came on an 8-14 (61.5%) performance from the field, including a 4-7 (57.1%) display from three.

Sophomore G Kamar Baldwin had 19 points and shot 50% (3-6) from three. Baldwin also tied with a game-high nine rebounds and finished with a game-high and career-best seven assists. Butler assisted on 20 of its 36 makes.

Redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott (10), junior C Nate Fowler (eight) and sophomore G Henry Baddley (eight) came off the bench and combined for 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting for the Bulldogs, including 4-5 from three. The Butler bench took a 26-16 scoring advantage.

Jalen Brunson led all scorers with a game-high 31 points. Mikal Bridges added 21 points.

Butler is now 3-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the country; in addition to a 2012 win over Indiana, two of those wins have come against Villanova during the 2017 calendar year. Butler has now won three straight meetings against the Wildcats. According to ESPN, Butler’s three wins over No. 1-ranked teams since the beginning of the 2012-13 season are the most of any team in the nation during that span.

Butler honored the late Andrew Smith during the game. The former Butler standout passed away from cancer nearly two years ago and his wife, Samantha, has spearheaded an effort called Project 44 (Andrew’s jersey number at Butler). In partnership with national not-for-profit Be The Match, the goal of the program is to save 44 lives through increasing registrations in the Be The Match national bone marrow registry. Samantha Smith joined Andrew’s college teammate Chase Stigall on the court during the game. Stigall entered the registry and was matched with a young boy in Ohio last year, helping to save his life with a bone marrow donation.

Butler returns to action and opens the 2018 portion of the schedule Tuesday, traveling to face #6/5 Xavier for a 7 PM ET tip. The game will air nationally on FS1.

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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