TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Butler University coach Chris Holtmann figures his team is in line for an extremely difficult road test against in-state rival Indiana State.
“I really like Indiana State's team,” Holtmann said. “It was a real good challenge for us (at home) last year. They're physical. They're tough. They have older guys. They have some dynamic guards. They've got some talent and the Missouri Valley is a heck of a league.”
The No. 16 Bulldogs (8-0) will visit Indiana State (4-4) at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at Hulman Center.
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“We'll need to be better than what we were on the road (last week against Utah) to give ourselves a chance,” Holtmann said. “I really believe that. I'm excited about our guys are going on the road in that environment. I think our players are excited about it, too, because we know it's going to be a tremendous challenge. That's a good thing for this group, regardless of what happens.”
Butler has played more games with Indiana State than any other opponent, with the series dating to 1903. The Bulldogs hold a 70-56 series edge, winning the past four games, including 85-71 last season.
Holtmann wasn't pleased with his team's approach and first-half play in Saturday's 82-58 victory over visiting Central Arkansas.
“We have to be more focused on the defensive end in practice,” junior forward Kelan Martin said. “We have to play together. It wasn't our best game (against Central Arkansas) We have tough teams the rest of the schedule so we have to ratchet it up in practice. We have to be connected together and we'll be fine.”
Martin, who scored a season-high 30 points against Central Arkansas, is averaging a team-high 18.1 points per game.
“We have a lot of scorers on the team so I don't have to do all the scoring,” Martin said. “I can look for Avery (Woodson) or anybody else.”
This is Butler's best start since also starting the 2008-09 season at 8-0.
Sycamores coach Greg Lansing has major concerns about Butler's prowess on both ends of the floor.
“They're such a good defensive team that they take it from you,” Lansing said. “They get steals. They're so active. They're well put together on that end. So they get some easy baskets off their defense so that always helps. On the half-court, their field goal percentage is 10 percentage points better than the teams they are playing. At one end, they are getting better shots than they are giving up on the other end.
“They're the best team we've played so far. What they've done so far on the season is very impressive.”
Butler is shooting 50.2 percent from the field while its opponents are shooting 40.9 percent.
Indiana State has won two consecutive games, topping visiting Northern Illinois 63-52 and edging host Utah State 62-61.
Sycamores junior Brenton Scott averages a team-high 19.1 points per game.