INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – No. 9 Butler made its final non-conference game look easy Monday night.
Now it’s time to get serious as the more rugged part of the schedule begins.
Kelan Martin scored 19 points and Roosevelt Jones added 17 points, five rebounds and five steals to help Butler rout crosstown rival IUPUI 92-54.
Coach Chris Holtmann expects even more from his team in Big East play.
“I think we have to get better defensively, we have to continue to get better in transition,” he said. “We have to get better in halfcourt and we have to get better in execution.”
There’s a lot to like, too.
The Bulldogs (11-1) have won eight straight since losing to Miami in November and already have five wins by 27 or more points. The 38-point margin was the second-largest for Butler this season.
Offensively, Butler has been incredibly balanced. Eight players have reached double figures in non-conference play though only three did Monday – Martin, Jones and Andrew Chrabascz, who had 17 points and six rebounds.
Five others scored between five and nine points.
The rebuilding Jaguars (4-11) couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced Bulldogs.
IUPUI was led by Darell Combs with 11 points and T.J. Henderson with 10 – not nearly enough to avoid losing for the fifth time in six games or falling to 0-5 in a series that started in 1997-98.
And coach Jason Gardner, the former University of Arizona and Indianapolis prep star, was impressed with what he saw.
“Every possession they want something good out of it,” Gardner said. “We’ve got to get there. They’re very, very good at that and they play with a purpose.”
It didn’t take long for the differences to show.
Butler never trailed but struggled to take control until going on a 13-2 run late in the first half to extend the lead to 43-24 at halftime.
The Bulldogs then opened the second half on a 10-0 run to put it away and the Jags never got closer than 25.
Holtmann doesn’t expect many more like this.
“We know what’s coming, and that’s some of the best teams in the country over the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Butler has been largely known in the past for running deliberate, effective offense. Not anymore. The Bulldogs entered Monday night’s game with the second-highest scoring average in the nation (89.7 points) and ranked No. 11 nationally in scoring margin (plus-19.2 points). Monday night’s outcome didn’t hurt.
The Jags made things even tougher on themselves with poor shooting and too many turnovers. IUPUI shot 35.1percent from the field and finished with 15 turnovers, getting outscored 20-5 off them.
Kellen Dunham has been one of the Big East’s top shooters but he’s struggling heading into conference play. After going 2 of 11 from the field and 0 for 5 on 3s Monday, he is 7 of 46 in his last four games combined. He finished with eight points against IUPUI.
Butler has been almost untouchable at home this season. It started the night averaging 98.8 points and shooting 57 percent from the field at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They improved to 7-0 at the fieldhouse despite shooting 50 percent from the field.
Jaguars: IUPUI is 0-15 all-time against ranked teams as a Division I team. … The Jags have played 12 of 15 games on the road and have already logged more than 5,400 miles in travel. This was almost certainly be their shortest trip of the season, approximately 6 miles. … IUPUI has been outscored 616-496 in the second half this season.
Bulldogs: Butler is off to its best start since 2008-09 when it was 19-1. … The Bulldogs extended their non-conference home winning streak to 28 games. … Butler had only two turnovers in the first half.