The Butler Bulldogs extended their winning streak four tonight as five different players scored in double digits to knock off visiting VMI 93-66. It was more business as usual for the Bulldogs from an offensive standpoint, and while it's hard to draw too many conclusions from yet another blowout versus an opponent from the Southern Conference, here's three things we learned from tonight's contest:
1. Kelan Martin's offensive uprising continues
Martin, a sophomore guard who came into the season expecting to be the team's sixth man, extended his double-digit scoring streak to three games with a 20 point, eight rebound performance. Martin's obviously a terrific scoring talent, but what has made this stretch so special has been the variety of ways that he's filling up the basket. He has deep range, knocking down one of his two three-point attempts tonight, but he's gotten far more aggressive in attacking the basket, which has increased his offensive efficiency. Martin finished 8-of-10 from the floor tonight, and he's now at two games in a row with over 20 points. He'll keep coming off the bench since head coach Chris Holtmann seems committed to his starting lineup, but we may have an early frontrunner for Big East Sixth Man of the Year.
2. Tyler Lewis bounces back
After a hot start to the season, Lewis had been struggling a little bit coming into tonight's contest, shooting just 1-of-11 combined against Cincinnati and Indiana State. Following the loss to Indiana State, there were a few questions being floated around about whether the Bulldogs would be better off starting Martin and sliding Roosevelt Jones over to point guard, and it was clear very early that Lewis had the green light to get his shots up tonight. Lewis bounced back in impressive fashion, scoring eight of the team's first 16 points on his way to a 12 point, five assist, three rebound stat line while playing the most minutes of anyone on the team. He's full of energy, and is surprisingly scrappy on the boards for a smaller guard. It was an impressive night, and gave Lewis some needed confidence.
3. Pushing the pace
I know I've written about multiple times already, but it really is impressive how quick Butler's pace has been this season. Tonight, the average Bulldog possession lasted just 15 seconds, and when the defense generated stops, they were back up the floor before VMI could really even do anything to stop them from cutting to the hoop. On multiple occasions, the Butler guards were grabbing rebounds at the top of the paint and immediately running coast to coast, which probably helps explain why the team had so many easy looks at the rim. Jones had a few acrobatic runs to the rim of his own, and the combo of Jones and Lewis running up the open floor was devastating. There's a reason why this Butler team has one of the best offense ratings in the country, and when the defense shows up too, they're going to be really, really tough to beat.