Butler came into this contest against Utah with a major sense of momentum following a victory over the (then) No. 8-ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Up against another Pac-12 team on Monday night, the Bulldogs overmatched the untested Utah Utes, winning 68-59.
It was clear early on that the Utes were a wee bit unprepared for the game, as they started off 1-for-9 from the field. They settled down midway through the first half though, and made it a close contest heading into halftime.
The second half was all Butler though, with a lethal combination of Kelan Martin from the outside and Tyler Wideman from the inside. Martin finished the game with a team leading 18 points, while Wideman didn’t miss a shot from the field all night.
Sitting pretty at 7-0, the No. 18-ranked Bulldogs could see another big jump in the polls if they are able to handle their only other opponent of the week, Central Arkansas, on Saturday.
But first, let’s find out a few things we learned from Butler’s successful trip to Salt Lake City.
Kelan Martin is still Butler’s best player
Coming into this game, Martin hadn’t really taken over the scoring burden like many people thought he would this season. With Dunham and Jones gone, the common thinking was that Martin would score 20-plus points each night and contend for Big East Player of the Year.
Both of those assumptions might not be true now, and that’s totally okay. Players like Avery Woodson and Kamar Baldwin have been able to take some of the scoring burden off of Martin, which is beneficial for the overall success of the team.
But when it’s needed, no player can step up and make the big shot like Kelan Martin can. As the year progresses, defenses are going to get tougher and the team’s offensive flow will undoubtedly be disrupted. There’s no player you’d rather give the ball to than Martin.
Tyler Wideman is a difference maker
Wideman exploded in the win over Utah with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting. It was his biggest scoring output since mid-November when he put up 14 against Bucknell.
With so much fire power coming from every other position for Butler, an offensive outburst from Wideman is the cherry on top. They certainly don’t need him to supply much on that side of the court, but it sure has proven to be beneficial.
Don’t expect that type of production from the big man ever night, as he’s only averaging around seven points per game this season. But enjoy it when he does, it most likely will lead to a Bulldogs victory.
The pressure didn’t get to the Bulldogs
Fresh off the news that they were now considered a Top 20 team in the country, some might’ve expected a letdown from Butler in a tough road game. Not these Bulldogs—not now at least.
Butler had control of the game from the early stages and even when Utah made a push, the result of the game never seemed to be in question.
The Bulldogs played like a Top 20 team should, and the rest of the Big East should take notice. Butler could be a real problem this year.