Last year Seton Hall spoiled senior night for Butler. The Bulldogs were having none of that this season. Butler used a 12-0 run and a stretch of 7 consecutive made 3s in the first half to jump all over Creighton in the first half. Things didn't change in the second half as Butler was never seriously threatened in a 93-70 victory over the Bluejays. Kelan Martin led all scorers with 26 points while Paul Jorgensen added 17 points and Nate Fowler chipped in 15 points.
Martin Leaves Hinkle with a Bang
That's a pretty impressive way to finish a career at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Martin went up against Khyri Thomas, one of the best defenders in all of college basketball. Thomas has gotten the better of Martin in the past, but he didn't stand a chance tonight. Martin scored 26 points on 10-15 shooting (5-7 from 3). Kelan now has 1,909 career points, only 30 behind Butler great Matt Howard for 4th on Butler's all time scoring list. If Kelan can average 23 points per game he will eclipse the 2,000 point mark even if Butler doesn't pick up any tournament wins. If they can win just a single tournament game then that 23 points per game would be enough to move him into 2nd all time. More importantly though, Kelan is playing like the type of player than can carry a team in March. I've said it several times before but I'll repeat it now, Butler can go deep in March with this version of Kelan Martin.
Where has this Nate Fowler been?
This night is all about the seniors, but Nate Fowler may have just had his best performance as a Bulldog. Often criticized for his lack of toughness, Fowler played tougher than anyone on the floor. He battled inside to the tune of 15 points on 7-9 shooting and 6 rebounds. He looked like a completely new player. There were no signs of rock hands or a soft presence. Nate even had an emphatic put back dunk in the second half that sent Hinkle into a frenzy. Butler is in pretty good shape down low next year if they can find a way to bring out this type of performance more often from Fowler.
Are the Dawgs In?
I said before conference play started that 9-9 in league play would probably put the Bulldogs in the dance. They move to 9-7 in the Big East with this victory and guarantee themselves at least a .500 conference record. Bracket Matrix had Butler as a 9 seed prior to facing Creighton, and this victory no doubt will boost their resume. Could they lose their final 3 games and still get in? Hopefully we don't have to find out, but I think they are in, although maybe only as a "First Four" member. There are no more opportunities for a bad loss. With the bubble as the floor, there is still plenty of time for Butler to play their way up as well. With 2 conference road games left and the Big East tournament it's not improbable that Butler could play their way up to around a 6 seed and be a first round favorite.
Butler has to wait over a week for that next opportunity to add to that resume. It comes next Wednesday on the road against a red hot St. John's team. A win would not only make life a lot less stressful on Selection Sunday but would put Butler in position to possibly sneak up and steal 3rd place in the Big East.