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Butler Bulldogs Travel to Face No. 1/1 Villanova

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off an OT loss to #5/5 Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse, travel to face the #1/1 Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, February 10. The BIG EAST Conference matchup is set to tip at 12 PM ET and can be seen on FOX with Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson and Lisa Byington on the call. Butler enters with a 17-8 (7-5 BIG EAST) while Villanova sits at 22-2 (9-2 BIG EAST).

This will be the 11th match-up between the two programs with a majority of the games coming since Butler joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. Butler has won the last three meetings between the teams, which includes a 101-93 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 30 as well as sweeping the 2016-17 season series. Villanova owns a 7-3 lead overall. The first meeting between the programs came as part of the 1996 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the only one prior to meeting as BIG EAST foes. Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen had a career-high 23 points in the Dec. 30 win over Villanova. Senior F Kelan Martin is averaging 19.3 ppg in the last four games against the Wildcats. Kamar Baldwin averages 14.7 ppg against Villanova over the last three matchups.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Redshirt Junior Guard Paul Jorgensen

Last time on the court, senior F Kelan Martin scored 34 points Tuesday night in Butler’s overtime loss to #5/5 Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Martin went 10-of-19 from the field and played all 45 minutes. Twenty-five of his points came in the second half. Martin’s 34 points included a career-high six three-pointers on a 6-of-12 performance from behind the arc. Butler overcame an 18-point first half deficit against Xavier. After the Musketeers took the 18 point advantage with 9:14 to go in the first half, Butler was able to turn the tables and took the lead at 52-50 with 12:47 remaining in the second half. Down seven points with 1:10 remaining in regulation, Butler was able to push the game into overtime by scoring 11 points in the final 70 seconds. That included a pair of three-pointers from redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott and a triple from sophomore G Kamar Baldwin with 13 seconds to play that tied the game at 84-84. The Bulldogs committed only nine turnovers in 45 minutes of play against Xavier. Butler had seven turnovers in the first half and turned it over only twice in the final 25 minutes of play. Butler made 13 of its 16 free throw attempts Tuesday against Xavier. Martin led the effort with an 8-of-8 performance.

Senior F Kelan Martin has a scoring average of 22.9 points per game in BIG EAST play this season. That average leads the BIG EAST Conference. Martin’s average of 22.9 points per game in BIG EAST games is the best mark in the conference. At 87.2 percent, Martin is third in the BIG EAST in free throw shooting.

The 34 points against Xavier from Kelan Martin were the third-best output of his Butler career. It was the fourth 30-point game of his career. Martin’s average of 22.9 points per game in BIG EAST games is the best mark in the BIG EAST Conference.

Kelan Martin has scored 20 or more points in 15 games this season, including eight of the team’s 12 BIG EAST contests. He has averaged 30.0 points per game over the last two outings.

Martin has 59 three-pointers on the season and now has 188 for his career. He has moved into seventh place on Butler’s career made three-point field goals list.

The 34 points from Kelan Martin on Tuesday night against Xavier moved him into fifth place on Butler’s career scoring list with. In jumping from 1,778 to 1,812 career points, Martin passed both Lynn Mitchem and A.J. Graves on the list. Next on the list is Matt Howard and his 1,939 points.

For the third time this season (and the third time in his career), redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott scored a career-high 17 points Tuesday against Xavier. His previous 17-point games came in back-to-back contests at Maryland and against Furman in November. On Tuesday, McDermott went 6-of-7 from the field and matched a career-high with five three-pointers. McDermott has now reached double figures in three straight games, giving him eight 10+ games on the season.

Sophomore G Kamar Baldwin had four steals against DePaul on Feb. 3, a season-high and one off his career-high of five set twice as a freshman. Including Tuesday’s game with Xavier, he now has 101 career steals in just 59 games. Baldwin is third in the BIG EAST in steals, averaging 1.7 per game.

Senior F Tyler Wideman leads the BIG EAST in field goal percentage at 69.5 percent.

Butler knocked down 14 three-pointers Tuesday night against Xavier. That total was Butler’s third-best of the season, trailing only a season-high 18 against Western Illinois on Dec. 21 and 15 in the first meeting against Villanova on Dec. 30.

Butler hit 80 points for the 14th time this season with the 98-93 loss Tuesday in overtime to Xavier. The Bulldogs are now 12-2 when scoring 80 or more. Butler’s other home loss this season also came when scoring 80 points as the team lost, 90-87, to Seton Hall on Jan. 6. The 93 points Tuesday were the most points scored by Butler in a loss since a 99-94 double-overtime loss to DePaul on Jan. 9, 2014, Butler’s third game as a member of the BIG EAST.

Prior to Tuesday’s 98-93 loss to Xavier, Butler’s defense had held its last five opponents to 72 points or less. Over that five-game stretch, Butler has limited opponents to 62.2 points per game and 40-percent shooting.

Butler has hit 10 or more three-pointers seven times this season; four of those outputs have come in the Bulldogs’ last five games.

Butler committed a season-low three turnovers in the Jan. 12 win over Marquette. That is the lowest total since the Bulldogs also committed only three miscues against Creighton on January 14, 2014. Butler is averaging only 10.3 turnovers per game in BIG EAST play (and 11.4 in all games this season). The 11.4 turnovers per game are second in the BIG EAST and 32nd nationally.

Individually, Butler has locked down on opponents’ key offensive weapons: St. John’s Shamorie Ponds (entered game averaging 20.0ppg in BIG EAST play, held to 2 points); Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey (held scoreless after averaging 20.5ppg entering game); and DePaul’s duo of Max Strus and Eli Cain (had a combined 9 points, entered averaging 29.9ppg combined in BIG EAST play).

Butler has shot 80 percent or better from the line 12 times this season, including four of the last five games. As a team, Butler is shooting 77 percent from the free throw line this season. That percentage improves to 80 percent in BIG EAST play. Butler is in the Top 15 nationally in free throw shooting.

Butler is 12-2 this season at Hinkle Fieldhouse. At Hinkle, the Bulldogs are averaging 86.9 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. Butler has reached 80 points in 12 of the games. Butler is 5-6 away from its home court, averaging 72.1 ppg on 43-percent shooting.

Prior to Tuesday night’s loss to Xavier, Butler had won its last five overtime games. The Bulldogs’ last OT loss came to Notre Dame in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Butler is now 3-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the country; in addition to a 2012 win over Indiana, two of those wins have come against Villanova during the 2017 calendar year. Butler has now won three straight meetings against the Wildcats. According to ESPN, Butler’s three wins over No. 1-ranked teams since the beginning of the 2012-13 season are the most of any team in the nation during that span

Christopher 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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