Monday, January 16, 2017

No. 13 Butler 88, Marquette 80: 63 second half points launch Butler past Marquette

                                                               Photo Credit: AP Photo

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

INDIANAPOLIS– The Butler Bulldogs (16-3, 5-2 Big East) came into a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tilt looking to continue their perfect home record this season against the Marquette Golden Eagles (12-6, 3-3 Big East) and did with an 88-80 win. They were able to live up to the expectation, but not without plenty of scares along the way.

In the first half, the Golden Eagles went 7-of-15 from beyond the arc, shooting 46.7 percent.  As a team, Marquette came into the game shooting 41.3 percent for the season from three point land (fourth in Division I).  Butler was held to just 1-8 (12.5 percent) from deep in the first 20 minutes of play.

Marquette managed to hold Butler without a field goal for the last 3:08 of the first half.  Through the last 2:52 of the first half, Marquette went on an 11-1 run to take a 41-25 lead into halftime.  

At halftime, Butler trailed Marquette by 16.  The deficit grew to as large as 18 before the Bulldogs came roaring back in the second half.  With 8:24 left in the second half, a 19-foot jumper from Kelan Martin finally put the Bulldogs in front.  A forced turnover followed by a 3 pointer in transition by Avery Woodson gave the Bulldogs a 4 point lead and forced a Marquette timeout.  In the second half, Butler outscored Marquette 63-39. 

Butler shot 70 percent in the second half and Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski knows the odds are daunting to win in a precise manner.

“Not very well. You Lose," Wojciechowski said. "You give up 63 points in a half and I don’t care what conference you’re playing in, what league, what level, if you give up 63 points in a half, you are not winning.”

Butler coach Chris Holtmann had been very impressed with how his team has played as of late.  

“That needs to be the strength of our team.  We said if we’re going to have a good, winning season, we need to have varied contributions," Holtmann said. 

Foul trouble was crucial for the Golden Eagles in the second half.  Andrew Rousey and Luke Fischer both had four fouls with nine minutes left to play in regulation.  In the second half, Marquette tallied 17 team fouls.  “It was huge," Wojciechowski said.  "Getting to the free throw line was critical and being in Hinkle was critical.  It’s hard to come back on the road and when you are in Hinkle and the energy the crowd provided was critical.

Five players scored in double-figures for the Bulldogs.  Kelan Martin lead the way with 22 points and 7 rebounds.  Kamar Baldwin dropped 18 points, while Kethan Savage added 17 points off of the bench for the Bulldogs.

Both teams return to action on Jan. 21 as the Bulldogs look to increase their winning streak to three games as the DePaul Blue Demons come calling at the Allstate Arena for a 1 p.m. tip on FS1, while the Golden Eagles travel to Omaha to take on the No. 7 Creighton Bluejays at 1:30 p.m. on FOX.

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