INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #18/18 Butler Bulldogs passed their first true road test of the season on Monday night. Butler’s starting frontcourt combined for 44 points in the 68-59 win over the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City at the Huntsman Center. The Bulldogs remain perfect on the season at 7-0, as the Utes drop their first game of the 2016-17 campaign. The Bulldogs shot 53 percent in the win after being ranked No. 18 in both national polls earlier in the day.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after three straight Utah turnovers to start the game. Utah senior G Lorenzo Bonam scored the first eight points for the Utes to bring the score to 11-8 with 12:00 remaining in the first half. A second three of the game for graduate transfer G Avery Woodson pushed the lead to 16-9, but Utah fought back to take the lead at 20-19 on a free throw by freshman G Devon Daniels. The Bulldogs quickly responded and pushed the lead to 10, the largest of the first half. Junior F Kelan Martin hit a three-pointer and scored on an and-1 alley-oop layup from redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis with 1:48 remaining during decisive run to put the lead at 31-21. The Bulldogs took a 33-27 lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs shot 56% (14-25) in the first half, including 42.9% (3-7) from distance. Butler held Utah to 30.8% (8-26) from the field, including 15.4% (2-13) from long range. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 18-10, but they held an 8-3 advantage in steals through the first half.
Utah managed to trim the Butler lead to four at 37-33 with 16:55 remaining in the game before the Bulldogs pulled away. Tyler Lewis had seven points within a 9-0 run that turned that 37-33 lead into a 13-point advantage. The lead would swell to 17 on another Kelan Martin three-pointer with 6:47 remaining in the game before Utah trimmed the game to its final margin.
“It’s been a long week for us, but a really good week,” said coach Chris Holtmann. “We learned a lot about our team. We need to take a lot of good lessons from this game tonight. We need to play better in stretches, but we really made them work with our defense. We need to take care of the ball better and be better on the glass, but it’s a road win in a tough place to play. And we’ll take that.”
Junior F Kelan Martin led Butler with 18 points on 7-15 shooting, including 2-5 from three. Junior F Tyler Wideman had 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 night from the field. Senior F Andrew Chrabascz added 11, with seven of those coming in the second half. Lewis added six assists for the Bulldogs to go along with his 10 points. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin had a career-high four steals as Butler forced 12 steals and 18 total Utah turnovers. Butler finished with 13 turnovers. The Bulldogs converted those Utah turnovers 23 points. The Bulldogs lost the battle of the boards, 33-31, but led the way in assists at 12-4.
Butler’s defense limited Utah to just 36.5% (19-52) shooting, including only 15% (3-20) from behind the arc. Utah’s offense relied heavily on second-chance points (22) and an 18-for-22 night at the free throw line.
The road win caps an impressive road trip for the Bulldogs, who won the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational with wins over Vanderbilt and Arizona. Utah lost only one game at home a season ago (to Oregon) and had beaten 32 consecutive non-conference opponents at the Huntsman Center until Butler broke the streak on Monday.
Butler is now one of just 23 remaining unbeaten teams in the country.
The Bulldogs return home to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a Saturday match-up with Central Arkansas. The 4 p.m. tip will be broadcast nationally on FS2. Tickets are still available. There is also a Project 44 bone marrow registry drive in conjunction with Be The Match that day to honor the life of Andrew Smith.
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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