Butler's Kelan Martin (30) is defended by Tennessee's Devon Baulkman during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Indianapolis. Butler won 94-86. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings
December 12, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) When Butler sophomore Kelan Martin entered Saturday's game, the reserve forward took every opportunity Tennessee presented him - and then some.

Martin had 25 points and 11 rebounds, leading the 18th-ranked Bulldogs to a 94-86 victory.

Martin knows his role and he plays his part. But for roughly 4 minutes on Saturday, he took over the game when he scored all of Butler's points during a 13-4 run in the second half that kept Tennessee at a distance and sealed the win for the Bulldogs (8-1).

''I was just in the moment and let the game come to me,'' Martin said. ''The crowd, my teammates out there yelling, I was getting pumped. I'm taking this role seriously. Coming off the bench with high energy, that's what Coach wants.''

The Volunteers (4-4) started the game shooting 60 percent from the field and led by as many as 10 points with 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Tennessee senior Kevin Punter scored 17 of his 27 points in the first half. But the Bulldogs chipped away at the lead, then an 11-2 run put them ahead.

Despite scoring 94 points, the Bulldogs endured a rough start on offense, missing their first eight shots from the field on their first four possessions. Kellen Dunham took the brunt of those struggles, going scoreless for the first 12 minutes of the game on 0-for-5 shooting from the field. Dunham, Butler's leading scorer, finished with 12 points.

The rough start for Dunham opened the door for Martin to enter the game and give Butler exactly what they needed.

''Really good players like Kellen (Dunham) and Roosevelt (Jones), they create opportunities for other guys just by being out there from the attention they garner,'' Butler coach Chris Holtman said.

Dunham was getting the right looks on his shot opportunities, but the baskets just weren't falling for him Saturday night, Holtman said.

Butler struggled in the early minutes of the first half because of Tennessee's zone that kept the Bulldogs out of the paint and forced a lot of uncomfortable shots beyond the arc, an area where the Bulldogs usually thrive.

Martin, Wideman and senior Roosevelt Jones cracked the Volunteers' defensive efforts as the three combined for 29 of the Bulldogs' 48 first-half points. Jones and Wideman contributed 10 points each during the first half, driving and scoring in the paint where the Bulldogs outscored Tennessee 18-8 in the first half.

''We faced a little bit of a different look than we anticipated. We had never seen them zone to that degree,'' Holtman said. ''We put some things in on the fly and the guys executed those well. Once we started attacking with more aggressiveness, we got more paint touches and moved the ball.''

Jones had 21 points and 10 assists, while Wideman added 14 points and six rebounds.

Tennessee stayed in the game for much of the second half. The Volunteers charged back from a double-digit deficit with less than 9 minutes remaining in the game, but Butler was too much for Tennessee when the game mattered the most. Wideman sealed the win for Butler at the free throw line with under 2 minutes to go, putting the Bulldogs ahead by nine.

''We had a chance, we really did,'' Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. ''I think Butler really, truly wins as a team. I think they're extremely well-coached, they know exactly who they are and I think each guy plays his role.''

TIP-INS: Tennessee is looking for his first win away from Knoxville,Tennessee, under Barnes.

Butler's 94 points will contribute to their No. 3 national ranking of 91 points per game. Saturday's win over Tennessee was the fourth time the Bulldogs have scored more than 90 points this season.

Butler tied a season high Saturday when they made 10 3-pointers. The Bulldogs made 10 3s one other time this season, on Dec. 7, when they defeated VMI 93-66.

MAN OF THE MONTH: Martin led the Bulldogs in scoring for the third time this season.


Tennessee hosts Florida Atlantic on Dec. 16.

Butler plays No. 11 Purdue at the annual Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on Dec. 19.

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