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Butler Bulldogs Visit No. 15/17 St. John’s

BUTLER (10-4, 0-1 BIG EAST) at ST. JOHN’S (11-2, 0-1 BIG EAST)
When: Saturday, January 3, 4 p.m. (ET)
Where: Carnesecca Arena – Queens, N.Y.
TV: CBS Sports Network (John Sadak, Doug Gottlieb, Allie LaForce)
Radio: 1070 AM/107.5 FM (Mark Minner, Nick Gardner)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Three days after ending 2014 against a nationally-ranked opponent on the road, the Butler Bulldogs will begin 2015 the same way. The Bulldogs will continue their BIG EAST-opening road trip with a visit to the #15/17 St. John’s Red Storm on Saturday (Jan. 3). The Big East Conference game at Carnesecca Arena will start a 4 p.m. and will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Both teams are looking for their first BIG EAST win.

The Bulldogs (10-4, 0-1 BIG EAST) dropped a 67-55 decision at #6/5 Villanova in the second game of the BIG EAST New Year’s Eve Tip-Off Marathon to open the conference season on Wednesday (Dec. 31). It was the second straight year that Butler opened BIG EAST play against the nationally-ranked Wildcats. Earlier the same day, St. John’s (11-2, 0-1 BE) lost its conference-opener at Seton Hall, 78-67. That loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Red Storm. Butler will be meeting St. John’s for just the fourth time and will be playing in Carnesseca Arena for the first time. St. John’s captured the first three meetings between the two teams, including two at Madison Square Garden.

Unbeaten Villanova used a strong start to each half to grab control and force Butler to play from behind the entire game. The Wildcats scored eight of the game’s first ten points to take an early lead, which they never relinquished. Butler did close to within two points, 34-32, on a lay-up by sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz late in the first half and trailed just 36-34 at halftime, but Villanova opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take command for good. The Wildcats limited Butler to just three field goals and nine points in the first 14 minutes of the final period, while building a 15-point lead. The margin grew to as many as 16 points in the closing minutes, before the Bulldogs trimmed the final score to 67-55.

Butler and St. John’s each built a successful pre-conference resume on the strength of a solid performance at the defensive end of the floor. The Bulldogs enter the weekend as the BIG EAST leader and 20th nationally in team scoring defense (56.9), while St. John’s stands second in the conference (58.9). Butler has held 10 of its first 14 opponents this season under 60 points and 13 of the 14 foes under 70 points. St. John’s had held six consecutive opponents under 57 points, prior to dropping its BIG EAST opener at Seton Hall.

Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz shared Butler’s scoring lead at Villanova on New Year’s Eve with 12 points, his third double-figures scoring performance in the past four games. The 6-7 forward scored 14 points against Indiana and a season-high 17 points against UT-Martin right before Christmas and then came back with eight points against Belmont right after Christmas. Chrabascz scored in double-figures in just two of Butler’s first 10 games.

Junior guard Roosevelt Jones made his first BIG EAST appearance in Butler’s New Year’s Eve game at Villanova. The 6-4 guard, who missed all of last season with a wrist injury, led the Bulldogs with nine rebounds in the game, while adding eight points, two assists, one blocked shot and one steal. That effort concluded a strong month for the Butler guard. In the eight games in December, he averaged 12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists, and he scored in double-figures five times.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Alex Barlow (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Alex Barlow (John Fetcho)

Junior guard Kellen Dunham, who became the 36th Butler player to score 1,000 career points during Butler’s game at Tennessee in December, boosted his career scoring total to 1,076 points in the Bulldogs’ BIG EAST opener on Wednesday. He currently stands in 33rd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list, 10 points behind Avery Sheets (2002-06) in the No. 32 position. Dunham has had at least a share of Butler’s scoring lead in eight of the first 14 games this season, and he’s led the Bulldogs in five of the past nine contests. Last year, Dunham ranked seventh in the BIG EAST in scoring (16.4), while becoming just the fifth sophomore in Butler history to score 500 points in a season. Kellen Dunham is currently ranked third in the BIG EAST in scoring (16.6). Kellen Dunham ranks third in the BIG EAST in three-point field goals (2.3), stands third in the BIG EAST in 3-point field goal shooting (44.4%) and shares the BIG EAST lead, 22nd in the nation, in free throw shooting (88.9%).

Senior forward Kameron Woods, who became the ninth player in Butler basketball history to record 700 career rebounds during the Bulldogs’ game at Tennessee in December, continued his climb on Butler’s all-time rebounding list in the Bulldogs’ BIG EAST opener. He pulled down six rebounds at Villanova and moved into a tie for fifth place on the all-time list with 742 career rebounds. He’s currently tied with Lynn Mitchem (1979-83), six boards behind Darren Fowlkes (1985-98) in the No. 4 position. Woods, who led the BIG EAST in rebounding (9.0) a year ago, has topped Butler in rebounding in nine of the team’s 14 games, including six of the past nine. Kameron Woods currently ranks second in the BIG EAST in rebounding (8.8). Kameron Woods is second in the BIG EAST in offensive rebounds (3.0) and in defensive rebounds (5.8).

Senior guard Alex Barlow enters the game at St. John’s with 145 career steals, which ranks seventh on Butler’s all-time list for thefts. Barlow had at least one steal in 28 of Butler’s 31 games a year, and he’s had at least one steal in 12 of Butler’s first 14 contests this season. Alex Barlow ranks third in the BIG EAST in steals (2.3). Barlow matched his career-high with four three-point field goals and shared Butler’s scoring lead with 12 points at Villanova.

Butler ranks second in the BIG EAST and 20th in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.8%). Butler leads the BIG EAST in rebounding margin (+6.0). The Bulldogs out-rebounded Villanova, 40-29. Butler leads the BIG EAST in total offensive rebounds (179).

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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