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No. 18/24 Butler Bulldogs Travel to Face Creighton

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #18/24 Butler Bulldogs travel to face the Creighton Bluejays for a Saturday evening BIG EAST Conference contest at the CenturyLink Center at 7:30 PM. The Bulldogs enter the match-up with a 13-5 overall record and are 2-4 in BIG EAST play. The Bluejays, who have been off since a Sunday win at DePaul, are 13-6 (4-2). It is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The game can be seen on FS1 with Justin Kutcher and Nick Bahe on the call and can be heard on 107.5 FM and the TuneIn Radio App with Mark Minner and Nick Gardner.

Butler and Creighton meet for the 12th time in series history with the Bluejays owning a 6-5 advantage in the series that dates back to four early meetings in the 1932-33 and 1933-34 seasons. Butler won both match-ups last season. The two wins came by a combined five points.

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

Last time out for the Bulldogs, Butler had a late flurry of shots in the last 12 seconds of the game, but none found the basket as Providence escaped with a 71-68 win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday night. Senior G Kellen Dunham led Butler with 21 points, including six three-pointers. The Bulldogs took a 66-65 lead with 3:11, but could only convert one more basket down the stretch. A Kris Dunn banked in three-pointer with 1:11 to play proved to be the difference in the three-point decision. Kellen Dunham played all 40 minutes Tuesday night at Providence. He is the first Butler player to log all 40 minutes so far this season. Dunham’s 30.6 minutes per game average trails only Roosevelt Jones (32.2). Sophomore G Kelan Martin came off the bench to score 15 points Tuesday at Providence. It was his 15th time leading the Butler reserves in scoring this season. Tuesday’s game was also the third time this season (joining vs. Temple and at DePaul) that Martin has been the only Butler bench player to score.

Butler went 9-of-15 at the free throw line Tuesday at Providence. The 15 attempts tied a season-low and the nine makes were the second-lowest output of the season. Conversely, Providence went 18-of-25 in the three-point win. On the season, Butler owns a +4.8 free throws made advantage in the team’s 13 wins, while Butler’s opponents make 4.6 more free throws in the Bulldogs’ five losses this season. After having only three games decided by six points or less in the first 14 games of the season, Butler has had three in its last four games fall into that category. The Bulldogs are now 4-2 in those games this season. Tuesday’s game at Providence featured 12 ties, 11 lead changes, and neither team led by more than six points during any portion of the game.

Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones had the game-winner in last season’s match-up in Omaha, driving into the lane and hitting a shot with less than two seconds on the clock to give the Bulldogs a 58-56 advantage. Butler’s two wins against the Bluejays last season were by a combined five points. Jones had 18 points and six assists in each of his two career games against Creighton. He had a double-double in the contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Jones has six double-doubles on the season and 13 for his Butler career. Jones has posted five double-figure rebounding outputs and has twice had double-digit assists this season.

Roosevelt Jones is the only player in Butler history to rank in the Top 10 in both career rebounds and assists. Jones currently ranks sixth in career assists (393), eighth in career rebounds (720) and is tied for eighth in career steals (128). Jones is also 21st in career scoring with 1,332 career points.

The versatility of Jones is evidenced by being in the Top 14 in six BIG EAST statistical categories: third in steals (1.7), fourth in assists (4.6), seventh in assist/turnover ratio (2.02), tenth in rebounding (6.9), 11th in scoring (14.2), and 14th in field goal percentage (.514).

Senior G Kellen Dunham had a season-high six three-pointers Tuesday at Providence. It was one off his career-high of seven (vs. Seton Hall, March 8, 2014) and just the fifth time in his Butler career that he has made six from behind the arc. In BIG EAST games, Dunham’s 3.2 three-pointers per game leads the BIG EAST, while his .487 three-point percentage ranks third in the conference. Senior G Kellen Dunham averages 13.5 points per game in four outings against the Bluejays, including 19 points in Omaha last season.

Kellen Dunham has led the Bulldogs in scoring in three of the team’s last four games, averaging 20.5 points per game over that stretch, including three 20+ point performances. Over his last five games, Dunham has made 19-of-34 three-point attempts for a 56% clip. Entering that five-game stretch, Dunham had missed 23 consecutive long-range attempts, the worst shooting stretch of his Butler career. For his career, Dunham has led the team in scoring on 48 occasions. In his 3.5 years at Butler, Dunham has scored in double figures 86 times, including 25 performances of at least 20 points. In Butler’s four true road games so far this season, Kellen Dunham averages 20.5 points per game, and is shooting 52% (17-33) from three-point range. Butler is 2-2 in those games.

With 15 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday at Providence, sophomore G Kelan Martin registered his second consecutive double-double and his fourth of the season. The 11 rebounds tied a career-high for Martin. Earlier this season, Roosevelt Jones posted three consecutive double-doubles, with two featuring rebounds and one including assists (Tennessee, vs. Purdue, Southern Utah).

Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann utilized just his third starting line-up of the season, starting graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers in place of redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis at Providence Tuesday night. Butler’s “regular” line-up of Lewis, Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones, junior F Andrew Chrabascz and sophomore F Tyler Wideman has started 16 of the team’s 18 games this season with a record of 13-3. Jones and Wideman have started all 18 contests (and Jones has started 119 consecutive games not including the entire 2013-14 season that he missed due to injury).

Kelan Martin and Andrew Chrabascz have combined to average 28.7 points in Butler’s wins this season, complementing consistent efforts by Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham. In Butler’s five losses this season, the output of Martin and Chrabascz stands at a combined 17.4 points per game. Martin has five 20-point scoring games this season and six during his 1.5 seasons at Butler.

Redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis dished out his 250th career assist Tuesday at Providence. Several Bulldogs are approaching career milestones. Roosevelt Jones needs three points to move into the Top 20 in Butler career history. Andrew Chrabascz (738) is just shy of 750 career points, while Jordan Gathers (499) and Kelan Martin (496) approach the 500-point mark.

Offensively, Butler is among the national leaders in a variety of categories so far this season. (These statistics are through the games of Wednesday, Jan. 20). The Bulldogs are:
12th in Fewest Turnovers (10.2 per game)
19th in Scoring Offense (83.3 points per game)
21st in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.52)
23rd in Field Goal Percentage (.487)
26th in Scoring Margin (+13.3 per game)
29th in Turnover Margin (+3.1)

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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