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No. 22/22 Butler Bulldogs Defeat No. 2/2 Villanova On the Road

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.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs

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.

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