TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Butler couldn’t wait to push around longtime rival Indiana State.
The Sycamores never really pushed back.
Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones each scored 14 points Wednesday night and the No. 23 Bulldogs put on a defensive clinic, pulling away for a 77-54 victory.
“We had watched tape of these guys and knew they were going to be a physical team that would challenge us in many ways,” Butler interim coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think our guys came out with the appropriate approach and mindset tonight.”
After waiting nearly 22 months to crack the Top 25, the Bulldogs (6-1) had plenty to prove and they didn’t waste a second.
The Bulldogs made five 3-pointers in the first nine minutes.
They had five players reach double figures.
They had a 26-6 scoring advantage off turnovers and a 40-18 edge in the paint.
Defensively, they dominated as well. Kameron Woods had 10 points, 12 rebounds and deflected three inbounds passes — plays that typified how tough Butler made things on Indiana State, which never got closer than 12 in the second half.
“I really felt sick during the game, felt sick for our fans, felt sick for our guys,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “If I can’t get them ready better than that, then I’ve got to do something. We’re not playing well at either end. We make the same mistakes over and over. We’re playing hard but we’re not playing together. What you saw tonight was a team that’s playing together, fighting for a coach.”
Devonte Brown scored 16 points and Jake Kitchell had 14 to lead Indiana State (3-4), which has lost three straight.
Butler’s early 3-point barrage extended the lead to 20-8 just 8 1/2 minutes in. The Sycamores briefly halted Butler’s surge when Brenton Scott came up with a steal and scored on an uncontested layup. But the Bulldogs scored the next seven points, making it 27-10.
The Sycamores got within 13 in the final minutes of the first half and rallied again to start the second half. But the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 spurt to make it 53-34 with 11:46 to play, and Indiana State couldn’t get closer than 18 the rest of the night.
“I think it’s the makeup of our team,” Holtmann said. “I look in their eyes when teams score on us and they don’t like it.”
Butler: The 6-foot-9 Woods, a senior forward, was a menace. He used his long arms to get position, helping Butler finish with a 39-26 rebounding advantage. Woods now has 683 rebounds and has passed Ken Pennington for No. 10 on the school’s career list. He needs seven to pass Chad Tucker for ninth.
Indiana State: The Sycamores’ rims might be the loudest in college basketball, and fans heard them clanging a lot. Indiana State started the game 5 of 16 from the field and 1 of 8 on 3s, and ended the first half shooting 29.6 percent. After warming up in the second half, the Sycamores finished at 37.5 percent from the field and 6 of 24 on 3s.
Butler hosts Northwestern on Saturday.
Indiana State visits Ball State on Saturday.
BROTHER VS. BROTHER
When Austin Etherington left Indiana after last season, the assumption was he would join his brother, Alex, at Indiana State. Instead, the older brother chose Butler, and the siblings faced each other for the first and possibly only time Wednesday. Austin Etherington had three points and three rebounds in the win. His younger brother finished with five points and two rebounds.
Holtmann is coaching Butler in place of Brandon Miller, who has taken a medical leave of absence. When his allotted time away, under the Family Medical and Leave Act, ends, Miller and the school will have to make some decisions.