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Butler Bulldogs Face Providence in the BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs travel to New York City for the 2016 BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden after closing the regular season by winning seven of its last nine contests. The Bulldogs are 21-9 overall and finished BIG EAST Conference play with a 10-8 mark. The quarterfinals opponent on Thursday (March 10) is the Providence Friars (22-9), who had an identical 10-8 record in BIG EAST play. Providence owns the head-to-head tiebreaker and will be the #4 seed in the tournament while Butler is the #5 seed. The tip is the second game of the session at approximately 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports 1 with Justin Kutcher, Jim Jackson and Molly McGrath. It can also be heard on 1070 AM, 93.5 FM and the TuneIn Radio App with Mark Minner and Nick Gardner.

While Butler has fond memories at Madison Square Garden, including winning the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off, the Bulldogs have not had similar success in the BIG EAST Tournament. Butler is 0-2 in the tournament since joining the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. Butler also made the 1958 NIT at Madison Square Garden. Butler holds a 4-8 record in the Garden. The Bulldogs are in search of an NCAA Tournament berth. Butler has made the Big Dance in seven of the last nine seasons, and 13 times overall. Butler was a No. 6 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and has been a single-digit seed in its last seven NCAA Tournament appearances,

Butler and Providence have met six times, all in the regular season over the last three years since Butler joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. The Friars have a 5-1 advantage in those match-ups, including winning two contests this season (81-73 in Indianapolis on New Year’s Eve in the BIG EAST opener and 71-68 in Providence on Jan. 19).

In six career games against Providence, senior G Kellen Dunham averages 17.3 ppg. He had 21 points on six three-pointers in the game on Jan. 19. Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones averages 16 points and 5.3 rebounds in four games against the Friars. In two games this season, sophomore G Kelan Martin has posted 17.5 ppg. In the Dec. 31 game this season, graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers had 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc. It is the second-highest scoring output for Gathers in a Butler uniform.

Last time out for the Butler, five Bulldogs scored in double figures against Marquette Saturday. It is one of nine times this season that at least five Bulldogs registered 10 or more points. A season-high seven players had at least 10 against The Citadel in the season-opener. Butler’s four seniors got the start Saturday against Marquette and spurred a 21-point victory in front of the sell-out crowd at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Graduate transfer G/F Austin Etherington led the team with a career high 18 points. Jordan Gathers just missed double figures with eight. Stalwarts Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham combined for 27 points of the senior class’s 53 points in the 95-74 win.

Butler shot 56% from the field in Saturday’s win over Marquette. It was the second straight and 11th time this season that Butler has shot 50 percent or better from the field. Butler is 11-0 in those games. Under head coach Chris Holtmann, Butler is 18-0 when shooting at least 50% from the field. Butler had the edge on the glass in the regular season finale against Marquette, 31-25. It was the 18th time that the Bulldogs out-rebounded its opponent this season. Butler is 16-2 in those games.

Known as one of the most versatile players in the country, Roosevelt Jones has a knack for making “winning plays” according to coach Chris Holtmann. Jones is the only player in Butler history to rank in the Top 10 in both career rebounds and assists. Jones currently ranks fifth in both categories with 451 assists and 796 rebounds. He is also eighth in career steals (142).

Jones has been part of 93 wins during his Butler career; Dunham’s teams have won 85. (Jones’s total includes games from his freshman season of 2011-12, but not the 2013-14 season that he sat out as a medical redshirt.)

Jones became just the 13th Bulldog to register 1,500 career points when he passed the mark in the regular season finale against Marquette.

The versatility of Roosevelt Jones is evidenced by being in the Top 15 in eight BIG EAST statistical categories: third in steals (1.5), fourth in minutes (33.4), fifth in assists (4.7), eighth in assist/turnover ratio (2.0), tenth in rebounding (6.7), 11th in scoring (14.3), 13th in field goal percentage (.491), and 15th in offensive rebounding (2.0).

Senior G Kellen Dunham scored 20 or more points in 10 games during the regular season, tying Kelan Martin for the team-lead in that category. In BIG EAST games, Dunham led the conference in three-point percentage (.495) and tied for second in three-pointers made (2.7 per game). He made three or more from behind the arc in 10 of the 18 BIG EAST contests. Dunham has led Butler in scoring 50 times in his career, including 10 this season.

Graduate transfer F Austin Etherington is averaging 9.8 ppg over the last five games, shooting 10-of-15 (66.6%) from three-point range during that stint.

Redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis is tenth nationally in assist to turnover ratio. His 3.73 ratio is based on 82 assists against only 22 turnovers this season.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin
Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin

Sophomore G Kelan Martin is tied with Kellen Dunham for the team-lead with 487 points (16.2 ppg average) so far this season. That is the sixth-best scoring output for a sophomore in Butler history. Billy Shepherd (1969-70) holds the mark with 724 points. Dunham is fifth at 508. Starting with the Jan. 30 game at Marquette, Martin led the Bulldogs in scoring in seven straight games. In that seven-game streak, Martin averaged 22.6 points per game. Kelan Martin scored his 700th career point Feb. 27 at Georgetown. It took Martin 42 games to register his 350th career point. He accumulated his next 350 in just 20 games. His scoring average has jumped from 7.1 points per game as a freshman.

Sophomore F Tyler Wideman is up to 48 blocks on the season. His 1.6 blocks per game rank fourth in the BIG EAST and the 48 swats are tied for fourth on Butler’s single-season list. Rolf van Rijn holds the single-season mark, blocking 64 shots in both the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.

Junior F Andrew Charbascz had four assists at Georgetown Feb. 27. He had a career-high eight in the season-opening win against The Citadel. Butler is 13-2 in games when Chrabascz has two or more assists. Chrabascz is third on the team in assists.

Butler opened the BIG EAST season with a 2-5 record. The Bulldogs have responded to go 8-3 to close the regular season. In the 8-3 portion of the schedule, the Bulldogs are averaging 79.5 points per game and shooting 42% from behind the arc. During the 2-5 portion of the conference schedule, Butler averaged 69.1 points and shot 35% from three-point range. Kelan Martin’s scoring has risen from 14.9 points per game (2-5) to 19.3 points per game (8-3).

With the March 2 win over Seton Hall, Butler captured its 21st season with at least 20 wins and the tenth time in the last 11 seasons. Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs won 23 games in 2014-15, his first season on the Butler sidelines as head coach.

Butler is 15-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points. Butler has eclipsed the 80-point plateau in its last seven wins. In the regular season finale, Butler scored 95 points in the win against Marquette, its highest scoring output since the Bulldogs put up a school-record 144 against The Citadel in the season opener.

Butler’s scoring average of 81.3 points per game this season leads the BIG EAST and is 17th nationally. Butler also leads the BIG EAST and ranks 11th nationally in turnovers per game (10.2). Butler is 11-5 in games when committing 10 or fewer turnovers this season/

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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