INDIANAPOLIS –- The return of forward Roosevelt Jones, and the dominance of junior guard Kellen Dunham lifted the Butler Bulldogs to an 88-45 victory over the University of Chicago, as Butler unveiled its newly renovated Hinkle Fieldhouse to fans.
After struggling from long range in the first half, Kellen Dunham exploded in the second half to finish with a game-high 18 points. Dunham, who was named to the Preseason All-Big East 1st Team, hit six 6-of-13 shot attempts on the night, and made two of his three second half attempts from downtown to help the Bulldogs put the game out of reach.
Roosevelt Jones, who missed the entire 2013-14 season due to a wrist injury, picked up where he left off two seasons ago, as he crashed the rim with the presence of a wrecking ball. Jones added eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, but showed improved handles and passing en route to a game-high eight assists.
Jones’ authority whilst driving to the basket helped open up space for senior forward Kameron Woods, who capped off a handful of alley-oop attempts from his teammates at the rim. Woods, who led the Big East in rebounding with 9.0 rebounds per game last season, took advantage of an undersized Chicago lineup to finish with 12 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Butler interim head coach Chris Holtmann gave plenty of playing time to his newcomers. Austin Etherington, who transferred to Butler after last season from in-state rival Indiana, was one of five Bulldogs to finish in double-digit scoring, adding 1- points and two rebounds whilst shooting 55.5 percent from the field.
"We’re sharing the ball right now and we’re doing a really good job of it," Holtmann said. "The ball doesn’t stick too much, the ball moves and that’s a real credit to the unselfishness that our guys have right now. Obviously, we need to continue to do that as teams get stronger and the competition gets stronger, but I’m proud of our guys for that."
Freshman Kelan Martin struggled in his debut for the Bulldogs, hitting just four of his team-high 14 attempts and missing all four of his shots from 3-point range. He finished with eight points and four rebounds in 23 minutes.
Woods said that it’s part of his job as a teammate to help newcomers like Martin get acclimated to the college basketball experience. "We just try to tell these guys to stay within themselves," Wood said after the game. "The most important thing is that they’re going to make mistakes, and regardless, we have however many guys in our program to have their back."
The Maroons were led by Jordan Smith and Waller Perez, who each had 11 points. Chicago forward Collin Barthel, who played high school basketball in Indianapolis, received roaring applause during his introduction before the game from the local crowd.
The Bulldogs will play one more exhibition match on Saturday, November 8, at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Franklin. The game is set to begin at 2 p.m.
- After nearly a full year of construction, the Hinkle Fieldhouse renovations proved to be worth both the wait and the $36 million price tag. Fans exploded at the debut of the new video board, bringing a modern stadium feel to the historic arena. Seriously, the renovations are awesome.
- The university and fans honored legendary coach Tony Hinkle’s family in the during the game’s first media timeout. Hinkle, who played at Chicago in college before serving as Butler’s head coach for 42 years, was named to the University of Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame last week.
- Holtmann wasn’t afraid to shake up the lineup tonight, debuting the Roosevelt Jones at point guard, as he has teased leading up to the season. However, the Bulldogs also followed up that stretch with a two point guard lineup of seniors Alex Barlow and Jackson Aldridge, keeping Barlow at shooting guard even after Jones went to the bench. Barlow hit two of his four three-point attempts on the night and seemed comfortable playing off of the ball, and Aldridge impressed with seven points on 3-3 shooting. Aldridge has been in and out of the Butler lineup throughout his career, but showed an improved nose for the basket and defensive tenacity tonight in his 14 minutes off the floor. If Aldridge can continue his hot streak into the regular season, Holtmann will have even further lineup versatility to play with as his regular rotation begins to take shape.
- Roosevelt Jones has to be the king of the floater-that-looks-like-it’s-not-going-in-but-always-does shot. Jokes aside, it’s nice to see that he’s added a few new moves to his slashing arsenal, including improved finishing with his right hand.
- It was a rough debut for the Butler freshman class, as Kelan Martin struggled to find his shot from deep and forward Jackson Davis picked up a few ugly fouls in his debut. Forward Tyler Wideman, the third and final member of this year’s recruiting class, missed the game due to a concussion sustained during practice this week.
- The crowd seemed especially enthralled with the team’s two walk-ons, sophomores Steven Bennett and Trey Pettus. Bennett has shown off a consistent shooting stroke from three in practice and it paid off tonight as he hit his one and only shot attempt from deep. Pettus, a former club basketball player who made the team in mid-October after an open tryout, picked up one rebound in the final two minutes of gameplay.