INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kelan Martin scored a season-high 29 points and Paul Jorgensen matched his career high with 16 on Tuesday night, leading Butler past Utah 81-69.
The Bulldogs (7-2) have won four in a row, all five home games this season and extended their winning streak over nonconference foes at Hinkle Fieldhouse to 40.
Donnie Tillman finished with 20 points and Sedrick Barefield scored 14 as the Utes (6-2) lost for the first time in three games.
It didn’t exactly go the way new Butler coach LaVall Jordan drew it up.
The Bulldogs blew an early seven-point lead and trailed by as much as 25-17 midway through the first half before closing the half on a 17-6 spurt to take a 34-31 lead.
Utah never really recovered.
The Utes tied the score at 39 on Gabe Bealer’s 3-pointer with 17:33 left then gave up 14 consecutive points, a run that ended with Jorgensen making his fourth 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 53-39 lead with 14:12 to play.
But the Utes did make one final run.
Trailing 72-57 after Kamar Baldwin scored seven straight for Butler, Utah went on a 12-2 spurt to get within 74-69 with 2:29 to go.
Martin closed it out by scoring five points down the stretch. He also had 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and his second in a row.
Tyler Wideman scored 18 points for Butler.
Utah: The Utes certainly had their chances. But they missed too many shots at the rim and never really had an answer for the Bulldogs’ offense once it got rolling. While Utah is good defensively, it must find more scoring to become a more prominent player on the national stage.
Butler: No, it wasn’t pretty. But the Bulldogs still found a way to deliver the knockout blow. The key was that first-half rally, which swung the momentum, got the crowd back in the game and seemed to fuel them in the second half. The result: Another solid win on the resume.
MOVING ON UP
Martin came into the game at No. 16 on Butler’s career scoring list.
It didn’t take him long to move into No. 15, passing one of the best-known players in school history, Bobby Plump.
Martin made two free throws with 17:21 left in the first half to give him 1,440 — one more than Plump. He finished the game with 1,465.
Utah: Heads home to Salt Lake City where it will Utah State on a neutral court Saturday in the Beehive Classic.
Butler: Hosts former Horizon League foe Youngstown State on Saturday.