The Butler men’s basketball team kicked off the regular season with a bang Saturday night in a record-breaking 144-71 win against The Citadel.
Butler shattered several records in an unbelievably fast-paced matchup. The ‘Dawgs record-breaking performance included the most regulation points scored (144, formerly 115), total points (144, formerly 128), points in a half (71, formerly 63), and largest margin of victory (73, formerly 68).
In the win, each of Butler’s 12 eligible players put points on the board, and seven finished with double figures.
Senior Kellen Dunham, a preseason first-team All-Big East selection, scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and made The Citadel pay for lapses in its transition and full-court defense.
But Dunham wasn’t the only standout in the Bulldogs dominant victory.
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NC State transfer Tyler Lewis showed flashes of brilliance in a 17-point performance, shooting 45 percent from the floor, dishing out 3 assists, and hitting 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Butler’s other preseason All-Big East first teamer, Roosevelt Jones, put up big numbers as well. Jones posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
In short, every player you would expect to fill up the stat sheet – and even some you might not – did so, and then some.
The Bulldogs took advantage of The Citadel’s weak full-court pressure early on by breaking attempted traps on the ball handler – usually Lewis or Jones– and finding Dunham or other shooters for open looks from three-point range. As a team, Butler shot 31 percent from behind the arc, compared to The Citadel’s 21 percent.
Rebounds and points in the paint proved to be the areas in which the ‘Dawgs flexed their muscles most. They scored 92 points in the lane compared to The Citadel’s 18, and out-rebounded their opponent 63-28.
After building an early lead, Butler never looked back. The team controlled every aspect of the contest, even after coach Chris Holtmann replaced his starters halfway through the second half.
The ability of the Bulldogs’ bench players to seamlessly plug into Holtmann’s game plan bodes well for the team down the road, especially if a high-profile teammate suffers a prolonged injury (knock-on-wood).Graduate transfer Jordan Gathers gave both Dunham and Jones a well-deserved breather during the contest and provided a strong spark off the pine – scoring 6 points on 3-of-7 shooting, pulling down 2 rebounds, and collecting 1 assist.
Sophomore Kelan Martin gave a great effort off the bench as well, posting his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Although Saturday’s game will go down as one of the biggest blowouts in Butler history, Holtmann made it clear in his post-game press conference that fans shouldn’t expect a repeat performance anytime soon.
Up next, the Bulldogs travel to the Caribbean to participate in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament, and will face a 0-1 Missouri State team in the opening round on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
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