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Maine vs. Butler game recap: Bulldogs soundly defeat Black Bears in season opener

Bulldogs dominate on both ends of the floor en route to first victory

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kicking off the regular season with explosive performances from junior forward Roosevelt Jones and junior guard Kellen Dunham, Butler dominated Maine from start to finish for a 99-57 victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday.

While it may have looked like another exhibition game, the win lifts the Bulldogs to 1-0 on the year. After going almost the first ten minutes of the game without a basket, Dunham got hot in the second half en route to a game-high 18 points on 5-7 shooting from 3-point range.

Complete Coverage of the Opening Week of College Basketball: Here

Ball movement proved to be key for the Bulldogs, and the offense shot a school record 71.9 percent from the floor while hitting 41 of 57 field goal attempts. Paced by Dunham and senior guard Alex Barlow, who connected on both of his three-point attempts, the team hit 50 percent from behind the arc on 8-16 shooting.

As was expected based on head coach Chris Holtmann’s lineup selections in exhibition play, Jones once again played extended minutes as the team’s primary facilitator with nine assists. Jones added 14 points and four rebounds before going to the bench as the team pulled way ahead near the end of the second half.

"I think the most dominant thought in this particular game was how our guys shared the ball," Holtmann said after the game. "Their ability to find each other and play really unselfishly has been a constant theme through these first couple games. I’m really proud of them for that."

Their ability to find each other and play really unselfishly has been a constant theme through these first couple games. I’m really proud of them for that. -Chris Holtmann

The Bulldogs finished the game with 29 total assists. Maine struggled to take care of the ball throughout both halves, coughing up 18 turnovers. Butler feasted in transition, scoring 32 points off of turnovers and 18 on the fast break.

Forwards Kameron Woods (Ten points, six rebounds) and Andrew Chrabascz (13 points, two rebounds) dominated down low. As a team, the Bulldogs scored 64 points in the paint, taking advantage of an undersized Maine lineup.

The Black Bears were led by forward Zarko Valjarevic, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

Butler will play two home games next week, taking on Chattanooga on Tuesday, at 9 p.m. and Loyola (MD) on Saturday, November 22, at 5 p.m. The Chattanooga game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2.

NOTES

  • Senior guard Jackson Aldridge returned to the bench in the second half with a walking boot and crutches after sustaining an apparent ankle injury in the first half. Holtmann said after the game that it appears to be a severe ankle sprain, and that Aldridge will most likely be out "for a little while."
  • Today marked the first regular-season game for Jones since March 2012, and he expressed his excitement to be back after the game. "It was probably the most excited I’ve ever been playing a game," Jones said. "Last year I couldn’t play and I had to sit there watching and our team wasn’t winning, so this year I can contribute to the team and it’s just very exciting for me to back on the court."
  • Scoring seemed to be coming from all areas tonight, with forward Austin Etherington (11 points) and freshman guard Kelan Martin (12 points, two assists) joining Jones, Dunham, Chrabascz and Woods for double-digit numbers in the scoring column. It’s difficult to fully evaluate the Bulldogs when facing exhibition-level talent, but it’s clear that the offense is far more balanced than last year’s Dunham-oriented attack.