INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #18/18 Butler Bulldogs, fresh of a New Year’s Day win on Sunday, will look to stay perfect in 2017 when they host the #1/1 Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The 6:30 p.m. tip will air nationally on FS1 with Joe Davis and Donny Marshall on the call. Butler enters with a record of 12-2, while Villanova is 14-0.
This will be the eighth match-up between the two programs with a majority of the games coming since Butler joined the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 2013-14 season. Villanova has won each of the previous seven match-ups. The first meeting between the programs came as part of the 1996 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, while the last six contests have been as BIG EAST foes. This will be Butler’s seventh time facing off with a team ranked No. 1 in the country. The most recent occurrence was a season ago as the Bulldogs lost at Villanova. Butler hosted #1/1 Indiana at Hinkle Fieldhouse during the 1953-54 season, the only time that the Bulldogs hosted the top team. Butler is 1-5 all-time against top-ranked teams, including a win over Indiana in the 2012 Crossroads Classic.
Last time on the court, Butler opened a 20-point lead 13 minutes into the contest and used 62-percent shooting to overmatch Providence, 78-61, Sunday afternoon. Junior F Kelan Martin led four Bulldogs in double figures with 15 points. Eight of Butler’s nine players who took shots made at least 50 percent of their attempts. Kelan Martin was the only Bulldog to attempt more than six shots as Butler’s balanced effort proved productive. The Bulldogs made 8-of-14 (57.1%) attempts from behind the arc Sunday against Providence for a season-best percentage and used a 29-5 advantage in bench scoring to post the win over Providence. Butler also out-rebounded Providence, 30-26, in Sunday’s win. Kelan Martin had a game-high eight rebounds. Butler is now 8-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, and carries an 11-game home winning streak into Wednesday’s contest
Butler is now 6-0 this season and 24-0 under Head Coach Chris Holtmann when shooting 50 percent or better from the field. When the Bulldogs post a better field goal percentage than its opponent, Butler is 10-0 this season and 45-2 in Holtmann’s two-plus seasons in charge.
Butler has led at the half in 10 of 14 games this season. When leading at the half, the Bulldogs are 10-0 this season and 50-7 during Chris Holtmann’s time on the Butler sidelines.
Junior F Kelan Martin became only the 39th Butler player to score 1,000 career points when he reached the milestone with his first point Sunday against Providence. Senior F Andrew Chrabascz scored his 1,000th career point in the Dec. 17 win over Indiana. Butler graduated two 1,000-point scorers off last year’s roster in Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham.
Martin has led the Bulldogs in scoring in eight of the team’s 14 games this season. He has scored 20 or more points in six of those contests. In his Butler career, the Bulldogs have a 19-5 record in games where Martin is the team’s leading scorer.
Martin had a game-high eight rebounds on Sunday, which is his third consecutive game at least sharing the team rebounding lead and his fifth time this season pacing the team in boards.
Redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis has led the team in assists in nine of Butler’s games this season. He has registered at least four assists in all but four contests. Lewis’s 4.8 assists per game rank third in the BIG EAST and 82nd nationally.
Lewis’s seven assists against Vermont Dec. 21 were just one off his season-high. For the season, he has 67 assists and only 18 turnovers. His 3.72 assist/turnover ratio leads the BIG EAST and is tenth in the NCAA.
Junior F Tyler Wideman led Butler with 20 points last Thursday night at St. John’s. He went 8-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line in posting the career-high. His previous career-best was 18 against The Citadel to open the 2015-16 season, while his season-high was 15 points at Utah on Nov. 28 when he went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field. Thursday was only the third time in Wideman’s career that he led the Bulldogs in scoring.
Freshman G Kamar Baldwin had a career-high five steals Dec. 7 at Indiana State. Baldwin’s average of 1.9 steals per game is tied for third in the BIG EAST and 58th nationally.
Butler has committed 13 and 14 turnovers, respectively, in its last two games. The Bulldogs have posted 10 or fewer miscues in seven games this season. Butler posted a season-low six turnovers in back-to-back wins over ranked opponents Cincinnati and Indiana near the end of the non-conference slate. On the season, the Bulldogs are averaging only 10.4 turnovers per game. That mark is eighth nationally.
Butler’s turnover margin of +4.3 leads the BIG EAST and is 23rd nationally. Butler’s assist/turnover margin of 1.40 is second in the BIG EAST and 29th in the NCAA.
Butler is now 7-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent. That includes the first five games of the season.
Butler has shot at least 40 percent from three-point range in five of its last six games. The Bulldogs have made at least 40 percent of their three-point attempts eight times this season. Butler is shooting 49.9 percent from the field this season, which ranks 14th nationally.
The Bulldogs are now 3-0 versus Top 25 teams in 2016-17, including two Top 10 wins.
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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