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Butler Bulldogs Host Indiana State

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, fresh off an impressive win on the road against the #17/17 Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday, return to Hinkle Fieldhouse to host the Indiana State Sycamores in a match-up of longtime in-state rivals on Saturday at 12:00 PM. The Sycamores enter the contest with a record of 3-3. Butler (5-1) is ranked #25 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll this week and is receiving votes in the AP Poll. The game will be televised nationally on FS1 with Justin Kutcher and Nick Bahe on the call. Mark Minner and Nick Gardner can be heard on 1070 AM and 93.5 FM as well as the TuneIn Radio App.

Saturday’s match-up with Indiana State is the 126th in series history. The Sycamores are Butler’s most-played opponent. The Bulldogs have a 69-56 advantage in the series and have won three straight contests. The first meeting was played Jan. 15, 1903 (a 28-14 Butler win). In the most recent game between the two schools, Butler won a 77-54 decision in Terre Haute almost one year ago to the day (Dec. 3, 2014).

In last season’s meeting with Indiana State, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones tied for the team-lead with 14 points apiece. Current sophomore G Kelan Martin (11) and current junior F Andrew Chrabascz also registered double figures among Butler’s returning players. Dunham went 5-of-7 from the field, including making all three of his long-range attempts. Jones is the only Bulldog to make two appearances against Indiana State in a Butler uniform, posting a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds as a freshman in a Butler win on Feb. 18, 2012. Those 12 rebounds are still tied for his career-high (one of five occurrences).

Photo: Butler Athletics/Jordan Gathers (Brent Smith)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Jordan Gathers (Brent Smith)

Last time out for Butler, a driving basket by redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones in the paint with 0.1 seconds left on the clock was the game-winner for Butler, who defeated #17 Cincinnati, 78-76, Wednesday night at Fifth Third Arena. The Bulldogs overcame a nine-point, second-half deficit to improve to 5-1 on the season. The win at #17/17 Cincinnati on Wednesday was Butler’s first road win against a ranked opponent since winning at #24/23 Providence, 68-64, March 7, 2015. It was Butler’s first road win against a non-conference opponent ranked in the Top 25 since winning at #14 Xavier (then a non-conference opponent), 74-65, Dec. 23, 2008.

The 78 points scored by Butler were the most by a Cincinnati opponent since Memphis scored 84 points against the Bearcats on March 6, 2014. Cincinnati won that game 97-84. Cincinnati entered the Butler game with the nation’s fourth-best defense, allowing only 54.6 points per game. Butler’s win also snapped a streak of 49 consecutive Cincinnati wins when the Bearcats scored at least 60 points.

While senior G Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs in scoring for the fifth time in six games this season, he was one of five players in double figures at Cincinnati. It was the third time this season that Butler had at least five players in double figures, including seven players who accomplished the feat against The Citadel in the season opener. Five Bulldogs average at least 10.0 points per game and redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis is just off the pace with an average of 9.5.

Kellen Dunham was one of 50 players nationally to be named to the Naismith Award Watch List this week. The award is given to the top college basketball player in the nation.

Kellen Dunham leads the BIG EAST in both scoring (21.7 ppg) and three-point field goals (3.3 per game). Those figures put him 18th and 25th, respectively, on the national scene. Over the past three games, Dunham is averaging 26.3 ppg, while connecting on 56% of his three-point attempts (14-25).

Kellen Dunham has made a three-pointer in 23 consecutive games dating back to last season. He has also moved into third place on Butler’s career list with 232 trifectas. He trails only Bruce Horan (314) and A.J. Graves (303). Dunham tied his career-high with a 32-point performance Saturday, Nov. 28 against SIUE.

Dunham made all six of his free throw attempts at Cincinnati, pushing his season mark to 28-of-29. That 96.6% ranks second nationally among those who have attempted the qualifying number. Dunham’s 363 career free throws moved him into a tie for ninth on Butler’s career list (Matt Howard made a program-best 669, 194 more than Bobby Plump in second place). Dunham’s 84.8% career percentage is currently tied for fourth in Butler history (Darnell Archey, 95.1%).

Roosevelt Jones is fourth in the BIG EAST in both assists (4.8 per game) and rebounds (8.0 per game) to go along with his 12.7 points per game. He has three double-doubles through Butler’s first six games (two that include rebounds and one that includes assists). He had a career-high 11 assists against SIUE one week ago. Jones has 10 double-doubles in his career.

Sophomore F Tyler Wideman is fourth in the BIG EAST in field goal percentage (63.2%). Wideman’s scoring has increased to 11.2 ppg from 2.3 ppg as a freshman. His free throw percentage of 76% nearly doubles his 2014-15 average of 41.5%.

Graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers had seven points at Cincinnati Wednesday. It was his high game in a Butler uniform.

Offensively, Butler is among the national leaders in a variety of categories so far this season. (These statistics are through the games of Wednesday, Dec. 2). The Bulldogs are:

Fourth in Fewest Turnovers (9.2 per game)
Fifth in Scoring Offense (92.2 points per game)
Seventh in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.85)
15th in Field Goal Percentage (.509)
18th in Scoring Margin (+20.0 per game)

Butler returned to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll this week and now stands at #25. The Bulldogs are receiving votes in the AP Poll, placed essentially in the 28th spot. The Bulldogs have been as high as #20 in the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll and #22 in the AP poll this season. During the 2014-15 season, Butler was among teams receiving votes or ranked in the “Top 25” in 16 of the final 17 weeks of the season. The Bulldogs climbed to as high as #15 in the AP national poll and #18 in the USA Today national poll. Butler finished the campaign ranked #23 in the final coaches poll and #24 in the final AP poll.

Five Bulldogs are ranked among the top 30 scorers in the BIG EAST. Butler leads the BIG EAST in scoring, field goal percentage, and assist/turnover ratio, and the Bulldogs are second in three-point field goal percentage, rebounding margin and offensive rebounds.

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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