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Butler Bulldogs Tip-Off Season with Exhibition Game against Taylor on Saturday

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs open the 2015-16 campaign with an exhibition against the Taylor Trojans, an NAIA university based in Upland, Ind. The 2 p.m. tip-off at Hinkle Fieldhouse is the first of 18 home contests during the season. The game will be televised throughout central Indiana on WISH-TV, while Mark Minner and Nick Gardner can be heard on 1070 The Fan and 93.5 FM.

Butler head coach Chris Holtmann is a 1994 Taylor alum. He was an NAIA All-American guard, leading the Trojans to a 25-9, No. 1 national ranking and a berth in the 1994 NAIA National Tournament as a senior. He also served as a graduate assistant and assistant coach to then head coach Paul Patterson in the early portions of his coaching career.

Butler is ranked #22 nationally in the first USA TODAY Sports coaches poll while the first AP poll is due out next week. 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 No. 15 in the AP national poll and No. 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. Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” in seven of the past nine seasons. Butler was 5-4 against teams ranked in the “Top 25” in 2014-15.

In a vote of the conference’s 10 coaches, Butler was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Poll. The Bulldogs came in just behind Villanova and Georgetown. Butler finished in a tie for second in the BIG EAST Conference a season ago after being picked to finish in a tie for seventh in the preseason poll.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs Team Photo
Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs Team Photo

Senior guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones were both named to the five-member Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team. Butler was the only team to have two selections. In addition to Dunham and Jones, Butler also returns starting junior forward Andrew Chrabascz. They were the top three scorers for Butler a season ago. The Bulldogs are the only BIG EAST team to return its three top scorers from a season ago.

Last season, Butler finished the season with a 23-11 record, matching the 11th-highest single season win total in school history. Butler’s climb from 4-14 in the BIG EAST in 2013-14 to 12-6 in the conference this season tied the fourth-best turnaround (+8) in BIG EAST history.

Butler advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time. Butler’s second-round win over Texas was the 20th NCAA Tournament win in program history. The 2015 bid was Butler’s 12th in the last 19 years.

Point guard Alex Barlow and forward Kameron Woods have graduated. Both players started all 34 contests a season ago. Barlow finished his Butler career ranked third in career steals with 187. Woods led the BIG EAST in rebounding the past two seasons and finished with 956 career rebounds, second in program history. Reserve point guard Jackson Aldridge also finished his eligibility.

The 2014-15 Bulldogs became the 20th Butler team to record 20 victories in a season. Butler has won at least 20 games in nine of the past 10 campaigns, including a school-record 33 victories in 2009-10. Chris Holtmann became the fourth head coach in Butler history to win 20 games in his first season.

Butler scoring leader Kellen Dunham, who led all players with 20 points in the Butler-Texas game, boosted his season scoring total to 561 points during the NCAA Tournament. That total stands as the sixth-highest single-season scoring production by a Butler junior. Dunham scored in double-figures in 30 games last season and boosted his career total for twin-digit scoring performances to 72, including nine games with at least 20 points.

Kellen Dunham finished third in the BIG EAST in scoring in 2014-15 (16.5), and is the league’s top returning scorer. Dunham is the first Butler player to lead the team in scoring in consecutive seasons since Brandon Polk in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Jon Neuhouser is the last Bulldog to lead the team in scoring in three consecutive seasons (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98).

Kellen Dunham extended his streak of consecutive games with a three-point field goal to 18 straight with two three-pointers against Notre Dame in the season finale. The 6-6 guard hit at least one three-point field goal in 32-of-34 games in 2014-15 and has had a three-pointer in 87 career games. He sits in sole possession of fifth place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals with 212 career three-pointers.

Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones both scored their 1,000th career point in 2014-15. The last time Butler had two players score their 1,000th career point in the same season was in 2006, when both Avery Sheets and Bruce Horan topped the mark. Dunham stands in 14th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,411 career points, 28 points shy of Bobby Plump (1954-58) in the No. 13 position. Jones is 34th on the all-time list with 1,077 career points, nine points behind Sheets.

After missing the 2013-2014 season due to injury, Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in assists in 2014-15 after also leading the team in that category in 2012-13. Jones was second on the team in scoring and rebounding a season ago. He led the team in rebounding as a freshman in 2011-12. In the three seasons with Jones in uniform heading into 2015-16, Butler is 72-35.

Butler’s non-conference schedule includes a trip to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, as well as a neutral site contest in downtown Indianapolis against Purdue, and a road trip to Cincinnati. Butler opens with Missouri State in San Juan with a field that also includes Temple, Minnesota, Miami (Fla.), Utah, Mississippi State, and Texas Tech.

Butler’s home schedule includes a match-up against Tennessee on December 12.

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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