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No. 18/21 Butler Bulldogs Set to Host Tennessee

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #18/21 Butler Bulldogs are seeking their fourth straight win as they play host to the Tennessee Volunteers in a Saturday non-conference matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 2:30 PM. Butler enters the contest at 7-1. The game will be televised nationally on FS1 with Tim Brando and Dickey Simpkins on the call. Mark Minner and Nick Gardner can be heard on 1070 AM and 93.5 FM as well as the TuneIn Radio App.

This is the fifth meeting between the two schools. Saturday’s game is the back end of a home-and-home series that saw Tennessee win, 67-55, in Knoxville Dec. 14, 2014. Josh Richardson had 20 for the Volunteers, who used a 19-6 run over the final six minutes to claim the 12-point win. The teams first met at Hinkle in 1958 (an 81-66 win under the direction of Tony Hinkle). Two neutral site contests followed. Butler won a decision in the semifinals of the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden (56-44), while Tennessee won 76-71 in overtime in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament (Birmingham, Ala.). Butler was ranked #11/10 and Tennessee was ranked #5/6. It was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that two teams with 30 wins met in the second round. Last year against Tennessee, Kellen Dunham had a team-high 16 points. Kelan Martin came off the bench to score 13 points in 14 minutes. They were the only two Bulldogs in double figures. First-year Volunteers’ coach Rick Barnes also matched up with the Bulldogs in 2014-15. His final game as the coach at Texas was a 56-48 Butler win in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 20 points in that game.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin (Zach Bolinger)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Kelan Martin (Zach Bolinger)

Last time out for Butler, five Bulldogs scored in double figures and Butler shot 55% as the home team ran away from VMI, 93-66, Monday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler improved to 7-1 by winning its third game in six days. It was the fourth time in the team’s seven games that at least five Bulldogs registered double figures. Seven Bulldogs had 10+ in the season-opening win over The Citadel, while five Bulldogs reached double figures against Cincinnati, SIUE and VMI. Butler made a season-high 10 three-pointers against VMI on Monday night. That performance followed a season-low three makes against Indiana State two days prior. The Bulldogs shot a season-high 48% (10-of-21) from behind the arc.

Sophomore G Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second consecutive game with 20 points in only 20 minutes of work against VMI. That performance followed a career-best 24 points in Saturday’s win over Indiana State. Martin has climbed to second on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Over the last two games, Martin is 18-of-24 from the field (75%) and has scored 44 points in 49 minutes of play.

Senior G Kellen Dunham was named BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday (Dec. 7) after leading the Bulldogs to a pair of victories, including a 78-76 victory at #17/17 Cincinnati. It is Dunham’s second BIG EAST weekly honor of his career, as he was also named the Player of the Week on Feb. 9, 2015. Dunham averaged 21.5 points in a pair of wins, including a game-high 24 points in a 78-76 victory at No. 17/17 Cincinnati. He scored 16 of his points in the second half which sparked a Bulldog rally. Dunham added 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting in an 85-71 win against Indiana State. Kellen Dunham leads the BIG EAST in scoring despite his average “dropping” to 20.0 points per game after playing only 20 minutes and taking six shots against VMI. He had 11 points. Dunham is shooting 66% (27-of-41) over the team’s last four game.

Kellen Dunham made six of his seven free throw attempts against Indiana State, pushing his season mark to 34-of-36. That 94.4% clip ranks seventh nationally among those who have attempted the qualifying number. The figure also leads the BIG EAST.

Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones ranks 18th in the BIG EAST in scoring, his lowest rank among the conference’s major statistical categories. Jones is fourth in assists (4.9 per game) and 10th in rebounds (7.5 per game) to go along with his 12.1 points per game. He is fourth in assist/TO ratio (3.0) and 11th in steals (1.3 per game). He has three double-doubles through Butler’s first eight games (two that include rebounds and one that includes assists). He had a career-high 11 assists against SIUE Nov. 28.

The Bulldogs are third nationally, averaging 91.4 points per game. Butler broke the 90-point threshold for the third time this season in the team’s 93-66 win over VMI. The Bulldogs eclipsed 50 points with 3:38 to play in the first half and reached 80 points with 10:20 to play in the contest. Nationally, the Bulldogs trail only UL Lafayette (91.8) and The Citadel (93.6) in scoring, a team Butler held to its season-low 71 points in a 144-71 win to open the season.

Butler leads the BIG EAST in field goal percentage (52.0%). Butler also has four players among the conference’s top 14 in the individual statistic. Tyler Wideman (5th), Kelan Martin (6th), Andrew Chrabascz (10th), and Kellen Dunham (14th) each shoot better than 50% so far this season.

Butler leads the BIG EAST in scoring, scoring margin and field goal percentage, while the Bulldogs are second in three-point field goal percentage, rebounds allowed, rebounding margin, offensive rebounding percentage, and assist/turnover ratio.

Butler is 4-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse so far this season, hitting 59% of its shot attempts. The Bulldogs are averaging 102.8 points per home contest, led by Kellen Dunham (21.5) and Kelan Martin (15.0).

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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