Butler improves to 10-1 with 88-52 win over Southern Utah
INDIANAPOLIS — The five-day holiday break might be the only thing that can slow down No. 9 Butler.
Tuesday night’s 88-52 victory over Southern Utah was the sixth time this season the Bulldogs shot better than 50 percent from the field. In more than half of their games, the Bulldogs are making more than half of their shots.
Roosevelt Jones had 12 points and 10 rebounds and was one of four Bulldogs to score in double digits as Butler (10-1) shot 63 percent from the field (37 of 58) and led by as many 41 points on the way to its seventh straight win.
Kellen Dunham, Butler’s leading scorer, struggled from the field, making just two of 10 shots and going 0 for 7 from 3-point range. That wasn’t a concern for the Bulldogs, who had 11 of their 12 players score Tuesday night. It was such a tremendous performance from the entire team, coach Chris Holtmann spent the postgame news conference commending Dunham’s defense and shrugging off the poor offensive performance.
Dunham’s struggles are nothing to worry about, Holtmann said.
"We still have things we need to improve on, but I’m really proud of our guys tonight," Holtmann said.
Butler had 21 assists on 37 field goals. Sophomore Tyler Lewis, who had nine points and eight assists, said it’s fun playing with a group as unselfish as Butler.
Sophomore Tyler Wideman, who had 15 points and six rebounds, credited his performance to being in the right spot at the right time and that good ball movement allowed him to take open shots instead of forcing things.
"Moving the ball has been our trademark so far," Holtmann said. "When we move it really good, our guys have a really good approach and we have good passers."
Travon Langston had 17 points for Southern Utah (2-8).
The Bulldogs’ stingy defense made it difficult for the Thunderbirds to get good looks at the basket, and in turn, forced Southern Utah into a dismal game, shooting 35 percent from the field (19 of 53).
Butler outscored the Thunderbirds 22-9 through the first 11 minutes of the second half to go ahead by 33 points.
The Bulldogs will have five days off before returning to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday night for their final nonconference game.
"I think we’re ready for a break, but we’ll be ready next Monday," Lewis said.
For the first five minutes of the game, it looked as if Butler was going to entertain the idea of keeping it close with Southern Utah, only leading by five points. But the Bulldogs got serious fast. Butler went on three scoring runs and shot 67 percent from the field.
With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, an 11-2 run by the Bulldog gave them a 12-point lead. After trading a few baskets with Southern Utah, sophomore Kelan Martin scored nine points during a 12-3 run that put Butler ahead by 19.
The Bulldogs finished the first half with a 10-3 run to take a 20-point lead.
Tuesday’s win was Butler’s first ever over Southern Utah. The Bulldogs lost the previous two meetings against the Thunderbirds during the 1993-94 season when the schools scheduled a same-season home and home.
Southern Utah’s 52 points were the lowest allowed by Butler this season.
Butler is 6-0 when shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 9-0 when leading at halftime this season.
WHAT A DISH: The Bulldogs combined for 21 assists on 37 field goals.
Southern Utah hosts Montana State on Dec. 31.
Butler hosts IUPUI on Dec. 28.