Saturday, January 20, 2018

Butler 79, DePaul 67: Martin's hot shooting the difference for the Bulldogs

Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— One must find an identity in order to realize its full potential.

For the Butler Bulldogs (14-7, 4-4 Big East), the pieces were on full display, highlighted by Kelan Martin’s 24 points, on 5-of-11 from three-point range in a 79-67 win over the DePaul Blue Demons (8-11, 1-6 Big East) in front of 6,802 fans at Wintrust Arena.

Martin returned to solid gold form after a season-low six points at Providence and delivered on precise perimeter looks, most of which came without a contest from the Blue Demons defense.

“I had a couple of days off after the Providence game and put up a lot of shots in the process. I tried to keep my emotions in control, so that we could come out with a road win because we only had one in conference play,” Martin said.

While Paul Jorgensen finished with eight points, the impact would not be seen on the stat sheet as the pressure applied on DePaul’s top scorer Max Strus in the game’s first few possessions, helped set the tone for the first half.

“Paul was tremendous and we know that Strus is a very high-level shooter,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. "You can't give him clean looks and I was very worried about Strus's size at 6'6", but Jorgensen was active and isn't known for his defense, but has gotten a lot better this season."

Aaron Thompson finished with a game-high eight assists, while Kamar Baldwin came close to a double-double with 18 points and nine assists.

"I thought [Kamar] was tremendous and his rebounding was great. He has grown up in terms of how to see the game,” Jordan said.

Despite not making a field goal until 10:38 into the game, Strus finished with a game-high 27 points, on 7-of-16 from the field in 40 minutes, but wanted the victory more than another individual achievement.

"We played faster in the second half and got the ball up the floor, but it wasn't enough because we lost the game. So, that doesn't matter," Strus said.

Eli Cain aided an early attack for the DePaul as he took advantage of the smaller Baldwin and made the first two baskets. Down 7-4 at the 16-minute mark, Martin delivered back-to-back three-pointers, which gave Butler a much-needed shot in the arm.

Martin’s mini-outburst helped spearhead a Bulldog 14-0 run, which saw the Blue Demons miss 10 straight field goals over a 7:32 stretch.

Strus ended DePaul’s scoring drought with five straight points, but Butler countered by scoring seven of the next nine points. The Bulldogs rode the momentum into a 14-3 run as they went into the locker room on cloud nine with a 41-19 lead behind 60 percent (15-of-25) from the field.

The Blue Demons did not go away without a fight as they went on an 11-2 run in the early stages of the second half to pull to 46-34. The buck stopped as DePaul would not get any closer as the Bulldogs countered with long range makes Martin and Jorgensen.

Game Notes:

      - Kelan Martin finished with his thirteenth 20-point game of the season.

- Eli Cain and Max Strus went the distance and played 40 minutes each.

- Butler has won its last 18 games in the city of Chicago.

Looking Ahead:

The Blue Demons return to action on Jan. 24 as they travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the Georgetown Hoyas at Capital One Arena, while the Bulldogs host the St. John’s Red Storm on Jan. 27.

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