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Butler Bulldogs Host Northern Colorado In Regular Season Opener

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs will open the 2016-17 regular season with a Saturday night contest against the Northern Colorado Bears at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The 7:30 p.m. tip will air nationally on FS2 with Vince Welch and Jordan Cornette on the call.

Butler has won 28 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents. The streak dates back to a loss to Pittsburgh in the 2012 College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann is 26-6 at Hinkle Fieldhouse as head coach of the Bulldogs.

Butler returns four of its top six scorers from a season ago, but the Bulldogs’ newcomers have been impressive so far this season. Redshirt senior G Kethan Savage had 16 points in the win over Wabash before missing the SVSU game. Graduate transfer G Avery Woodson has averaged 12.5ppg on 61-percent shooting in the two games. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin has made seven of his 11 shots, posting a scoring average of 9.5ppg.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Freshman G Kamar Baldwin
Photo: Butler Athletics/Freshman G Kamar Baldwin

The Bulldogs posted a 2-0 mark in exhibitions leading up to Saturday’s opener. Butler shot a combined 58% in the two contests while limiting opponents to a 33% mark. Five players scored in double-figures in Butler’s 77-50 win over Saginaw Valley State following four Bulldogs reaching at least 10 points in the 100-53 victory over Wabash.

Butler out-rebounding its exhibition opponents, 77-48. A good portion of that discrepancy is due to junior F Tyler Wideman, who pulled down 17 rebounds in only 33 minutes of combined action in the two games. The Bulldogs had a combined 86-26 advantage in points in the paint over the two exhibitions.

Junior F Kelan Martin, the leading returning scorer in the BIG EAST Conference, was chosen as a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team selection by the league’s head coaches. Martin finished the 2015-16 season by earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors (again voted on by the conference’s coaches).

Martin is also one of 15 small forwards on the Watch List for the Julius Erving Award, presented to the nation’s top player at that position. This week, Martin was named to the Watch List for the Lute Olson Award, given to the nation’s top player with at least two seasons of collegiate experience.

In Chris Holtmann’s two seasons as head coach at Butler, the Bulldogs have averaged 121.5 ppg in their regular season opener. Much of that is attributed to the 144 points put up against The Citadel last season that featured a non-stop fullcourt pressing defense for the visitors. The 144-71 victory set several records for the Butler program, including points in a game, points in a half, and margin of victory. Butler also scored 99 points in the 2014-15 season-opening win over Maine.

Butler was picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST standings in a preseason vote of the conference’s head coaches. The poll was announced at BIG EAST Media Day Oct. 11. The Bulldogs are looking to finish in the top half of the BIG EAST after achieving the feat in each of Chris Holtmann’s first two seasons.

The Bulldogs are receiving votes in the both the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll and AP Poll, and are No. 19 in the preseason KenPom statistical rankings.

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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