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No. 9/10 Butler Bulldogs Travel to Face No. 6/6 Xavier

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #9/10 Butler Bulldogs will play for their first BIG EAST Conference victory of the season as they travel to face the #6/6 Xavier Musketeers on Saturday, January 2. Both teams dropped their BIG EAST openers, but the meeting of ranked teams highlights five BIG EAST games on FS1. Butler is 11-2 overall on while Xavier enters at 12-1. The game will be televised nationally on FS1 with Joe Davis and Jim Jackson 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. Westwood One will have a national radio broadcast featuring Dave Barnett and PJ Carlesimo. The game as the Cintas Center is schedule to tip at 1:00 PM.

Butler and Xavier are recent BIG EAST rivals, but have a long-standing feud that dates back to a single season in the Atlantic 10 as well as some time together in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League). Xavier leads the all-time series, 35-18. The Musketeers took two of the three match-ups a season ago.

Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones had his first career double-double in a game against Xavier as a freshman (10 points and 11 rebounds on Dec. 7, 2011). Jones has faced Xavier six times (missing two additional games in 2013-14 due to injury), while Kellen Dunham has matched up with Xavier seven times leading into Saturday’s contest. Dunham’s games include one BIG EAST Tournament game, four BIG EAST conference games, one Atlantic 10 conference game, and one designated non-conference game early in the only season that both Butler and Xavier were members of the Atlantic 10.

In two appearances against Xavier last season (he missed one due to injury), junior F Andrew Chrabascz averaged 17.5 points per game. Tyler Wideman posted (then) career-highs of eight points and nine rebounds on 4-of-4 shooting in only 16 minutes of work vs. Xavier, Jan. 10, 2015.

Saturday’s game at Xavier will only be Butler’s second true road game of the season. The other game was also played in Cincinnati as the Bulldogs knocked off the (then) #17 Bearcats, 78-76. Senior G Kellen Dunham had a game-high 24 points in that contest, while Roosevelt Jones hit the game-winner with 0.1 seconds on the clock.

Last time out for the Bulldogs, #12/13 Providence made nine of 12 three-point attempts in the second half to post an 81-73 win over #9/10 Butler Thursday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse. A sold-out crowd of 9,100 witnessed just the second match-up in Hinkle Fieldhouse history featuring Top 15 teams. Butler committed only six turnovers against Providence, just one off its season-low five against Temple in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Bulldogs average only 9.5 turnovers per game, which is third nationally and the best mark in the BIG EAST. The Bulldogs scored a season-low 73 points against Providence. Butler entered the contest after averaging 89.9 points per game in non-conference play. Butler scored 73 or more points on only 13 occasions last season (in 34 total games). Butler tied a season-low with three three-pointers, while Providence made 12, which was the high for a Butler opponent this season.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Roosevelt Jones (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Roosevelt Jones (John Fetcho)

Sophomore G Kelan Martin came off the bench and led Butler with 20 points and nine rebounds against Providence. Martin has led the Bulldogs in scoring in five of the last seven games. Thursday’s performance was Martin’s fourth 20-point scoring performance of the season. He did that once during his freshman campaign. Graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers scored a season-high 11 points against Providence off the bench as well. The total was his best performance in a Butler uniform. Gathers went 3-of-3 from behind the arc, adding four rebounds and two assists. Gathers made all three of his three-point attempts against Providence Thursday, while his teammates went a collective 0-of-14. It was the first time this season that only one Bulldog made a three-pointer. In fact, only once this season have only two Butler players made a three. A season-high seven Bulldogs made trifectas against Missouri State at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Martin has averaged 18.1 points per game over his last seven contests after registering an average of 10.7 in the team’s first six games.

Jordan Gathers has hit 12 of his last 18 three-point attempts for a 67% clip. That covers his most recent six games. In the seven games to start the season, Gathers was 4-of-13 (30.8%) from behind the arc. Gathers leads the team and is second in the BIG EAST with a 51.6% three-point percentage for the season. Gathers has averaged 8.0 points per game over the team’s last five games.

Sophomore F Tyler Wideman made all five of his attempts from the field against Providence. It was the second time in the last three games that Wideman was perfect from the field (7-of-7 against Southern Utah). Wideman also went 8-of-8 in the season-opener against The Citadel. On the season, Wideman shoots 66.7% from the field (48-72). That mark is tied for second in the BIG EAST.

Redshirt junior PG Tyler Lewis (3.8) and redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones (2.8) rank second and third, respectively, in assist/turnover margin in the BIG EAST.

Redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones has moved into tenth place on Butler’s career rebounds list with 695. He is currently sixth in Butler career assists with 374 in his 3.5 seasons as a Bulldog. Jones is the only Butler player to appear in the Top 10 lists of both categories. He is six steals away from cracking Butler’s top 10 list in that statistic. Jones is also 22nd in career scoring with 1,262 career points. The versatility of Jones is evidenced with his BIG EAST rankings: third in assists (4.9), sixth in steals (1.5), ninth in rebounding (7.6), and 13th in scoring (14.2).

Roosevelt Jones had 12 points and 10 rebounds against Southern Utah on Dec. 22, his most recent double-double. Jones has six double-doubles in the team’s 13 contests this season and 13 for his Butler career. Jones has posted five double-figure rebounding outputs and has twice had double-digit assists this season.

Offensively, Butler is among the national leaders in a variety of categories so far this season. (These statistics are through the games of Thursday, Dec. 31). The Bulldogs are:

Third in Scoring Offense (88.6 points per game)
Third in Fewest Turnovers (9.5 per game)
Seventh in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.74)
13th in Field Goal Percentage (.504)
13th in Scoring Margin (+18.5 per game)
31st in Rebound Margin (+7.5 per game)

Butler leads the BIG EAST in scoring, scoring margin, field goal percentage, and assist/turnover ratio, while the Bulldogs are second in rebounding margin.

Butler is also third nationally in scoring. The Bulldogs average 88.6 points per game. The national leader is The Citadel, which averages 93.1 ppg. Butler held The Citadel to a season-low in a 144-71 win to open the season.

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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