INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #23 Butler Bulldogs returned home on Saturday to host Big Ten foe and most difficult challenger in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, the Northwestern Wildcats. In a game that was everything Coach Chris Holtmann expected, Butler pulled out a hard-fought 65-56 decision against Northwestern and the win lifted the No. 23-ranked Bulldogs to a 7-1 start to the season.
Junior guard Kellen Dunham led all scorers with 19 points while shooting an impressive 6-for-9 from the field. Junior forward Roosevelt Jones also scored in the double digits with 12 points while posting team-highs with four assists and three blocks. Senior forward Kameron Woods grabbed nine rebounds and scored seven points while senior guard Alex Barlow recorded a team-leading four steals and scored eight points. Freshman forward Tyler Wideman came off the bench to score eight points, the most among Butler reserves.
The Bulldogs nearly led wire-to-wire as they never trailed at any point in the game and the score was tied only five times, the last instance coming with about two minutes remaining in the first half and the score knotted at 28-28. The two teams were never separated by more than six points the first half with the halftime score of 34-28 matching Butler’s largest lead in the contest.
“We thought it was going to be a relatively low possession game and we thought it was going to be one where you just have to break through at some point,” said Holtmann.
Coming out of halftime, the Bulldogs began the second half with a 10-5 run propelled by a pair of baskets from Woods that gave Butler a 44-33 lead, its biggest advantage of the game. The Wildcats answered by going on a 14-5 run of their own to cut the lead to just two points with under six minutes remaining in the game.
Butler held a 59-54 lead with about three minutes remaining until a steal by Barlow led to a layup at the other end that made the Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd erupt as the Bulldogs permanently regained momentum in the game. Afterwards, Holtmann compared the grinding effort his team had to give to playing a conference opponent.
“You need experience being able to play in one or two possession-type games where every possession matters,” Holtmann said. “I told our guys during a couple of media timeouts, ‘If you don’t love this game, you don’t love playing. This is like a league game.’ These guys are shaking their heads like this was like playing against Providence. It had that kind of feel to it.”
The Bulldogs had another great night shooting as they made nearly half of their shots, shooting 49% (24-49) from the field in the game.
Butler struggled at the free throw line, shooting only 57.1 percent (16-for-28) in the game, but the Bulldogs’ field goal shooting made up for their issues at the foul line.
The Bulldogs will have a quick turnaround before their next game against Kennesaw State at Hinkle Fieldhouse Monday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The game will be nationally televised by FOX Sports 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.
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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