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Butler Bulldogs Roll St. John’s at Hinkle Fieldhouse

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off a road win at DePaul last Saturday, returned to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a BIG EAST Conference matchup against the St. John’s Red Storm on Saturday, January 27 during Coaches vs. Cancer weekend. Senior F Kelan Martin scored a game-high 19 points to lead Butler in the 70-45 win. Butler improves to 15-7 (5-4 BIG EAST) while St. John’s falls to 10-12 (0-10 BIG EAST).

“The week off was really needed for some rest and recovery,” said Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan of not having a midweek game after playing at DePaul a week ago. “We had a great week of practice and our second unit really pushed us each day. We got out to a great start and the defensive effort obviously stands out. This was a more complete performance than we have had the last few times out and a win that will hopefully carry some momentum into the next one.”

The Bulldogs stormed out of the gates hot from distance and quickly built a 19-2 lead with 12:24 remaining in the first half. A three by redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen gave Butler a 5-0 lead after a layup from senior F Tyler Wideman. Freshman PG Aaron Thompson followed with a three, the first of his career, to give Butler a 8-2 lead with 16:38 remaining in the first half. The Thompson three was the first of four straight Butler threes as sophomore G Kamar Baldwin and sophomore G Henry Baddley connected from deep before senior F Kelan Martin pulled up in transition for three. Senior F Amar Alibegovic ended the Butler run with a three for the Red Storm and cut the lead to 19-5 before Kamar Baldwin found Henry Baddley in the post for a two-hand dunk. Minutes later, Kelan Martin scored five straight points, including a second bucket from deep, to give the Bulldogs a 26-7 lead with 7:31 remaining in the first half. Alibegovic responded immediately with a second three, but Butler responded with a 6-0 run, including a second three from Baldwin. A third three for Kelan Martin was answered by St. John’s senior G/F Bashir Ahmed to cut the lead to 35-15 with 1:17 remaining before halftime. Kamar Baldwin would score the final bucket of the first half on a layup with five seconds remaining in the first half to give the Bulldogs a 37-15 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs finished the first half shooting 43.3% (13-30) from the field, including 47.1% (8-17) from three. The Red Storm finished the first half at 18.5% (5-27) from the field, including 27.3% (3-11) from three. Kelan Martin led all first half scorers with 13 points.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Senior Forward Kelan Martin

A friendly bounce on a jumper by Jorgensen opened the second half scoring and gave Butler a 39-15 lead with 19:40 remaining in the game. Minutes later, Kelan Martin would connect on a fourth three to give Butler a 45-18 lead with 16:33 remaining in the game. A 9-1 run by St. John’s, including six points from redshirt sophomore G Justin Simon, cut the Butler lead to 19 at 46-27 with 13:24 remaining. But the hot three-point shooting continued for Butler as Henry Baddley responded with his second three of the game to extend the lead to 49-27 with 12:23 remaining. Paul Jorgensen connected on his second three to extend the Butler lead to 25 at 54-29 with 10:08 remaining before splashing home a third three at the 7:47 mark to give Butler a 60-30 lead. Redshirt junior F Tariq Owens hit a three for St. John’s before Butler junior C Nate Fowler scored an And-1 layup to bring the lead back to 30 at 63-33 with 6:19 remaining. St. John’s rattled off an 8-0 run with the help of a second three from Bashir Ahmed and an And-1 layup from redshirt junior F Marvin Clark II to cut the lead to 63-41 with 4:43 remaining. But field goals from Kelan Martin and Nate Fowler along with three free throws from Aaron Thompson down the stretch helped seal the game for Butler.

The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 40% (22-55) from the field, including 40% (12-30) from three. St. John’s finished the game at 29.1% (16-55) from the field, including 23.8% (5-21) from three.

Butler finished with a 42-32 rebound advantage and a 14-10 assist advantage. The Bulldogs scored 17 points off of 11 Red Storm turnovers while surrendering eight points off of 11 turnovers.

Senior F Kelan Martin led all scorers with a game-high 19 points on a 6-12 (50%) shooting performance, including 4-8 (50%) from three. He added five rebounds and two steals.

During the game, Martin passed Billy Shepherd to move into eighth place on the Butler career scoring list; he now has 1,736 career points.

Senior F Tyler Wideman posted a career-best and game-high 11 rebounds in the game. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen scored 13 points, followed by 12 from sophomore G Kamar Baldwin. Baldwin added seven rebounds and tied for a game-high five assists.

Freshman PG Aaron Thompson scored eight points included the first three-pointer of his Butler career.

The Bulldogs improved to 11-1 at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

Tariq Owens led St. John’s with 13 points and nine rebounds. The Red Storm’s other four starters each entered the game averaging double figures. None of the four hit the mark. Butler’s defense limited Shamorie Ponds to two points on 0-for-12 shooting. He entered the contest averaging 20.0 points per game.

The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday night, traveling to Marquette for a 9 PM ET tip. The game will be broadcast nationally on FS1. Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse a week from today, hosting DePaul at Noon.

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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