INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #13/15 Butler Bulldogs will close the regular season and the home portion of the 2016-17 season at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 4. The Bulldogs will host the Seton Hall Pirates for a 2:30 p.m. tip on Senior Day. The game will air nationally on FOX with Joe Davis and Len Elmore on the call. The Bulldogs enter the game at 23-6 overall (12-5 in BIG EAST). Seton Hall is 19-10 (9-8 BIG EAST).
Following Saturday’s game, Butler will recognize the team’s six seniors – Senior G Steven Bennett, senior F Andrew Chrabascz, redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis, senior G Trey Pettus, redshirt senior G Kethan Savage, and graduate transfer G Avery Woodson.
Butler and Seton Hall will meet for the ninth time with all eight previous games coming since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 2013-14 season. Butler has won seven of the eight match-ups, including all seven in the regular season. Seton Hall’s win came in the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament. The Bulldogs have won five straight in the series.
Butler defeated Seton Hall, 61-54, on Jan. 25 on the road in Newark, N.J. The Butler defense limited Seton Hall to 29-percent shooting to take the win. Andrew Chrabascz led four Bulldogs in double figures with 16 points. Kethan Savage went 6-of-10 from the field to post 15 points. He added 10 rebounds. He and Kelan Martin (10 points, 11 rebounds) each posted a double-double. Butler’s .352 mark from the field was a season-low. However, the defensive effort was enough for the Bulldogs to once again come away with a gritty road win. The .286 field goal percentage for Seton Hall was a season-low for a Butler opponent.
Butler is in search of a five-game winning streak in BIG EAST play. A win Saturday against Seton Hall would accomplish the feat for only the second time in Butler’s four seasons in the BIG EAST (joining a five-game winning streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 7, 2015).
In Thursday’s RPI rankings released by the NCAA, the Bulldogs come in at No. 10. Butler’s 17 wins against teams currently ranked in the RPI Top 100 (through the games of Wednesday, March 1) leads the nation. The Bulldogs are tied with Villanova and Duke with 10 wins against the RPI Top 50. Butler is now 6-2 against ranked teams this season, including a 5-1 mark against teams that were ranked in the Top 15 at the time of the contest.
Last time on the court, #22/22 Butler was trailing 71-69 with 5:43 to play before scoring 15 of the next 18 points over the next four minutes to secure an 88-79 win on the road at Xavier on Sunday. The Bulldogs shot 58 percent in the second half and 55 percent for the game. Butler committed only seven turnovers, including only two after the intermission. Butler scored 50 points in the second half of Sunday’s game at Xavier. It was the sixth time this season that the Bulldogs posted 50 or more points in a half. It was the second time against Xavier this season. Butler also put up more than 50 in both halves against St. John’s on Feb. 15 (110-86 win). Butler now has two wins against Xavier at the Cintas Center, picking up its first win in Cincinnati since Dec. 23, 2008, with the class that included Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack as freshmen.
Butler has secured the No. 2 seed in next week’s BIG EAST Tournament in New York City. The Bulldogs receive a first-round bye into the quarterfinals and will play Thursday at 7 p.m. (FS1) against the winner of Wednesday night’s opening round game between No. 7 seed Xavier and No. 10 DePaul. These are three of the seeds that are locked in regardless of Saturday’s league outcomes.
Butler’s No. 2 seed is the program’s highest mark since joining the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. The Bulldogs tied for second place during the 2014-15 season, but were the tournament’s No. 3 seed.
BIG EAST coaches picked Butler to finish sixth in the league’s preseason poll this season. The Bulldogs will finish second in the league standings. It is reminiscent of the first season as head coach for Chris Holtmann at Butler (2014-15) when the league’s coaches picked Butler to tie for seventh and the Bulldogs instead finished in a tie for second place.
Following a loss, the Bulldogs are now 22-4 under coach Chris Holtmann. That includes a 5-1 mark this season.
Butler’s current four-game winning streak corresponds with four straight shooting performances of greater than 50 percent. The Bulldogs shot 54.8 percent at Xavier on Sunday, which is actually only the third-best mark during the recent four-game stretch as Butler shot well against St. John’s (.576), DePaul (.569) and Villanova (.509).
Butler has shot 50 percent or better from the field 12 times this season. The Bulldogs are 11-1 in those games. When shooting a better percentage than its opponent, Butler is 18-0 this season and 53-2 under head coach Chris Holtmann.
After hitting the mark in three of its last four games, Butler is now 33-1 under Chris Holtmann when scoring 80 or more points, including a 12-1 mark this season. The Bulldogs’ average of 77.4 points per game is fourth in the BIG EAST.
Junior F Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 25 points and seven rebounds at Xavier, hitting 9-of-15 shots from the field, including a three-pointer that gave Butler its final lead at 74-71. Sunday marked Martin’s tenth 20-point game of the season and the 25 points were his best performance in a BIG EAST game this season.
For the sixth time this season, Martin paced the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding. On the season, Martin has led the team in scoring 12 times and has pulled down the team’s most rebounds on 13 occasions.
Over the past four games, Kelan Martin is averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game. In the three games prior to this stretch, Martin averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Butler’s backcourt of freshman G Kamar Baldwin and redshirt senior G Kethan Savage combined for nine steals in Sunday’s win at Xavier. Baldwin’s five steals matched his career-high. Savage has posted a season-best four steals in back-to-back games. Four of those nine steals came during a decisive 15-3 run.
Kamar Baldwin has 51 steals so far this season, a mark that is tied for 11th on Butler’s single-season list. Baldwin’s 296 points this season are just outside the Top 10 for a Butler freshman (Wayne Burris ranks tenth with 304 during the 1973-74 season).
According to STATS Inc., Kamar Baldwin is one of only four players standing 6-feet or shorter since the 2000-01 season to post a game with at least 10 rebounds and a game with at least four blocks in the same season. Baldwin pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds against Providence on Feb. 11 and he had four blocks in the game at Marquette on Feb. 7.
Senior F Andrew Chrabascz has led the team in assists in each of the last two games, handing out six at Xavier after tying a career-best with eight helpers at Villanova. Chrabascz’s eight assists matched the team total for Villanova. Against Villanova, Butler assisted on 21 of its 27 field goals.
Chrabascz ranks 11th in the BIG EAST in assists (3.2 per game). Teammate redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis is third, averaging 4.0 assists per game.
Redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis had a season-high nine assists against St. John’s on Feb. 15 and followed that up with eight helpers (and no turnovers) against DePaul on Feb. 19. Lewis leads the BIG EAST and is fifth in the nation with a 3.74 assist/turnover ratio.
Including a 35-22 advantage at Xavier, Butler’s bench has out-scored the opponent’s in 15 of its 17 BIG EAST games this season.
The Bulldogs held Villanova to 66 points in the Feb. 22 road win. Butler is now 17-0 on the season when holding its opponent to less than 70 points. The Bulldogs are 6-6 on the season when their opponent scores 70 or more.
Butler hit 10 three-pointers at Villanova on Feb. 22, the seventh time this season that the Bulldogs have made 10 or more behind the arc. Butler is 7-0 in those games. Butler’s season average of 7.8 three-pointers per game is fifth in the BIG EAST.
The Bulldogs are 15-2 on the season when pulling down more rebounds than their opponents. Butler out-rebounded St. John’s, 40-25, Feb. 15. It was Butler’s largest rebounding advantage of the season.
On the season, the Bulldogs are averaging only 10.2 turnovers per game. That mark is seventh nationally. Butler had a season-low four turnovers – including none in the second half – against Marquette on Jan. 16. The Bulldogs have posted 10 or fewer miscues in 14 games this season and is 12-2 in those games. The Bulldogs had seven turnovers in Sunday’s win at Xavier, including only two in the second half.
Butler committed a season-high 16 turnovers against Villanova and still got the win. It marked the first time that Butler had committed more than 15 turnovers in 44 games, dating back to the Jan. 16, 2016 game against St. John’s.
The Bulldogs are 6-3 this season in games decided by five points or less. Butler is also 2-0 in overtime games.
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
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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