INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Butler coach Chris Holtmann sees signs of a good team.
His thoughts were reinforced in the Bulldogs’ 77-57 blowout of No. 24 Seton Hall on Sunday.
“I think we responded really, really well,” Holtmann said. “These guys have pressured us way more than any time that they have played us in recent years.”
When the Pirates took a lead in the second half, Butler responded with an 18-2 run to move ahead for good.
Andrew Chrabascz scored 15 of his 16 points in the first half, Kellen Dunham added 15 points, and Roosevelt Jones had 12 and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-6, 5-3 Big East), who have won four of five.
Brandon Mobley finished with 15 points and Desi Rodriguez added 12 for the Pirates (13-6, 3-4), who have lost a season-high three straight.
The Bulldogs regained the lead when Kelan Martin scored to put Butler ahead 52-49 with 10:48 remaining.
“If you give them easy buckets, you’re going to struggle,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “They did a good job in transition and got some easy buckets.”
It took Butler overtime to beat ranked Seton Hall 79-75 in the first regular-season series meeting between the two teams on Jan. 13.
Things have been going Butler’s way, lately.
The Bulldogs are 4-2 against Top 25 opponents this season. They also beat a ranked St. John’s team back on Jan. 3.
Seton Hall made a run at Butler at the end of the first half.
Mobley scored to cap a 10-1 run to put the Pirates within a point before Alex Barlow made a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 32-28 lead at halftime. Mobley made a 3-pointer in the second half to tie it at 34 and then scored another 3 to put the Pirates ahead 37-34 with 15:42 remaining.
Then Butler went on its big run to take the lead for good.
“We just focus on possession by possession,” said Barlow, who finished with 11 points. “Sometimes we get caught up in a good run and celebrate too much. I think what we really do is just try to focus on making sure our next possession is a good one.”
Kameron Woods converted a three-point play to tie it and Jones scored the go ahead layup before Dunham made a basket and a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 44-37 lead.
Seton Hall: The Pirates got off to a slow start from 3-point range. They missed eight straight 3’s before Sterling Gibbs made one at the 4:26 mark in the first half to pull the Pirates within nine points. … Seton Hall is the top perimeter defending team in the Big East, but Butler is No. 2, holding teams to 26 percent from behind the arc. …The Pirates finished 4-24 from 3-point range.
Butler: The Bulldogs relied on Chrabascz to get the team off to a good start. He scored Butler’s first seven points of the game and reached double figures by halftime after finishing with 13 in a 64-61 win over Creighton on Wednesday.
Seton Hall: is at Marquette on Wednesday.
Butler: will travel to Marquette on Saturday.
FREE THROW WOES
Butler is No. 9 in the Big East when it comes to free throw percent and the Bulldogs struggled from the line against Seton Hall. “Our free throw coach needs to be fired,” Holtmann joked. “And that’s me actually.” The Bulldogs shot 51.6 percent, but got off to a slow start and was just 4 of 14 from the line at halftime.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
On the final day of Coaches vs. Cancer week where coaches wear tennis shoes to raise cancer awareness, Hinkle Fieldhouse fell silent twice. Butler student Eric Day told his story in the first half of being diagnosed with a brain tumor his freshman year. On Sunday his book “Stay Positive” was available to fans. In the second half, former Butler players Andrew Smith and Erik Fromm urged fans to support cancer research. Smith recently battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Fromm’s father passed away from cancer.
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