INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #22/22 Butler Bulldogs, hot off two straight wins at home, took to the road to face the #2/2 Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia at The Pavilion on Wednesday, February 22. Junior F Kelan Martin led Butler with 22 points off the bench to complete the regular season sweep of the Wildcats in the 74-66 win. With the win, Butler improves to 22-6 (11-5 in BIG EAST). Villanova is now 26-3 (13-3 BIG EAST).
“This is a tremendous win for our group,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “I have so much respect for Nova and for Jay. To come on the road and beat a team of this caliber says a lot about our guys. We played with great composure and made plays down the stretch. Hopefully we’re continuing to make strides and moving forward.”
Butler’s win snapped a 48-game winning streak for the Wildcats at The Pavilion, one that dates back to 2013. #2 Villanova also serves as Butler’s highest-ranked true road win in program history, besting a win at #10 Wisconsin during the 2000-01 season.
Graduate transfer G Avery Woodson packed his hot shooting hand and opened the scoring with a three for the Bulldogs. Butler went on to take an 8-0 lead with 15:41 remaining in the first half with the help of an And-1 three-point play on a layup by junior F Tyler Wideman. The Wildcats would score seven straight points before junior F Kelan Martin would hit a three to give Butler an 11-7 lead with 12:33 before the halftime break. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin connected on a three minutes later to extend the Butler lead to 18-11 with 9:48 remaining in the first half. Villanova managed to tie the game twice at 22-22 and 24-24 before sophomore G Jalen Brunson connected on a three to give the Wildcats a 27-26 lead with 0:53 seconds remaining in the first half. A jumper in the paint by Kelan Martin put the Bulldogs up 28-27 with 0:30 remaining before Brunson connected on a layup with 0:05 remaining to give Villanova the 29-28 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs shot 42.9 percent (12-28) from the field in the first half, including 25 percent (3-12) from three. Villanova shot 46.4 percent (13-28) from the field, including 22.2 percent (2-9) from three.
Brunson opened the second half scoring on a jumper before redshirt senior G Kethan Savage immediately followed with a deep three from the wing to tie the game at 31-31 with 18:47 remaining in the game. After a Baldwin layup gave Butler the 33-31 lead, the Wildcats would go on to take 36-33 lead. Thankfully for the Bulldogs, the Woodson hot hand continued as a Avery connected on another three to tie the game again at 36-36 with 15:25 remaining. The Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to take a 44-36 lead, their largest of the game, with 13:08. Villanova held a 49-42 lead with 10:37 remaining, but the Bulldogs quickly barked back. A third three by Woodson, a second three by Kelan Martin and two makes from deep from redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis helped Butler tie the game at 49-49 with 8:14 remaining in the game. A tough layup through traffic was finished by Kethan Savage and put the Bulldogs back in front at 51-49 with 7:15 remaining. A third Kelan Martin three completed an 18-0 run and gave Butler the 60-49 lead with 4:22 remaining. The Wildcats cut the lead to six at 60-54 with 3:56 remaining, but a Kamar Baldwin reverse layup extended the lead to 64-54 with 1:33 remaining. Kamar Baldwin would foul out after contacting senior F Kris Jennings on a three-point attempt, who would go on to hit three at the line. On the next play, sophomore C Nate Fowler caught a full-court inbounds heave from senior F Andrew Chrabascz and quickly flipped it to a streaking Kelan Martin for a one-hand fast break dunk. The slam extended the Butler lead to 66-57 with 1:16 remaining. Villanova managed to cut the lead to four points at 70-66 with 0:12 remaining on a three by senior G Josh Hart. But Hart would miss a three attempt to cut the lead to three with 0:05 remaining in the game as Kelan Martin would grab the rebound and score the final two points of the game at the charity stripe with 0:02 remaining.
Butler finished the game shooting 50.9 percent (27-53) from the field, including 40 percent (10-25) from three. Villanova finished 43.9 percent (25-57) from the field, including 25 percent (6-24) from three. Down the stretch, the Bulldogs hit enough free throws to seal the win, ending the night at 83.3 percent (10-12) from the stripe. Butler made its final seven attempts from the field.
Junior F Kelan Martin came off the bench to lead Butler with 22 points on 7-11 shooting, including 3-6 from three. Martin also had a game-high eight rebounds. He played a key role in a decisive 18-0 run midway through the second half. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin added 15 points for Butler, with 11 coming in the first half. Graduate transfer G Avery Woodson had 13 points, including a 3-7 performance from three.
Jalen Brunson led Villanova with 24 points; Josh Hart added 18.
Butler out-rebounded the Wildcats, 32-31. Uncharacteristically, the teams combined for 31 turnovers. The teams entered the game averaging a combined 24.1 turnovers per contest. They had 17 in the first half alone.
The Bulldogs return to action Sunday with a 3:30 p.m. tip in Cincinnati for a BIG EAST Conference contest against Xavier. The game will air nationally on FS1.
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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