It took some time, but Butler's offense finally erupted against quality competition as the Bulldogs used a 47 point second half to take down pesky Utah by the score of 81-69 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Kelan Martin dominated, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Tyler Wideman had 18 points, Paul Jorgensen had 16, and Kamar Baldwin added 11 in the victory.
Kelan Martin Was An All Big-East Player
Tonight we saw the Kelan Martin that could take Butler deep into March. He scored 29 points on 12-19 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds and was the most dominant player on the court. A strong second half from the team made it look like an all around great offensive performance, but it wasn't like that from the beginning. Martin carried Butler's offense through most of the first half, scoring 14 of the first 28 points. Kelan has been a little up and down this season, but this was absolutely an emphatic up.
Heavy Starter Minutes
This game was all on the starters. Butler's bench only played 34 minutes and was a combined 0-4 from the floor with 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Butler is still down a man without starter Sean McDermott, but never before have they relied so heavily on the starters. Some of that is certainly lack of depth, but tonight it was simply hard to pull any of them out. Every starter shot well except for Baldwin (5-13) who still played well with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. They were a well oiled Big East machine that could compete against anyone.
Most Balanced Effort Yet
This may have been Butler's best performance of the year. It's hard to pick out anything they did poorly. The defense was once again elite, despite that pesky 3-point shooting (Utah came in shooting 33% from 3 but shot 43% from there on the evening). Butler finally shot well from the perimeter and moved the ball much better than previous games. The defensive rebounding was yet again spectacular, although the offensive rebounding does still need some work. If Butler plays like this for the rest of the year they are a lock to make the NCAA tournament, and all of this was without Sean McDermott. Right now the panicking from a few weeks ago seems a little absurd.
Butler returns to Hinkle on Saturday for a matchup against old conference for Youngstown State. ButlerHoops.com will once again make the trip up to provide full coverage. As always, be sure to visit the forums for nonstop discussion on all things Butler basketball.