Terre Haute, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams from the Hoosier State collide on Wednesday, as the 23rd-ranked Butler Bulldogs pay a visit to the Indiana State Sycamores.
Butler has made quite a bit of noise early on. The Bulldogs have won five of their six games this season, including victories over North Carolina (74-66) and Georgetown (64-58). The strong efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the Bulldogs were recently elevated to the AP Top-25 for the first time this season, and first time since 2013. They will host Northwestern in their next bout.
Indiana State returns home after a run in the Las Vegas Invitational last week. The Sycamores suffered losses in both of their tests in Sin City, falling to Illinois (88-62) and Memphis (72-62) in consecutive days. They are 3-3 overall, with a 2-1 success rate at home. Road tests against Ball State and Iowa await after this matchup.
These in-state foes have met 123 times previously, but not since 2012 when Butler rolled to a 75-54 win. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 68-55, with wins in five of the last eight matchups.
Butler's most recent win came in a 64-58 final against Big East opponent Georgetown during the third place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. The Bulldogs made up for a 37-28 deficit on the boards by limiting the Hoyas to 41.5 percent shooting, while scoring 15 points off of turnovers. Kellen Dunham pace the winning side with 16 points.
It has been the defensive end of the floor where Butler has been at its best this season. North Carolina is the only team to have scored more than 60 points against the Bulldogs, who are ranked 14th in the country in opponent scoring average (54.5 ppg), while limiting foes to 37.9 percent shooting. Dunham (16.8 ppg) can shoot from anywhere on the floor and is the team's most prominent offensive threat. Kelan Martin (10.8 ppg) provides a nice spark off the bench as the only other double-digit scorer. Roosevelt Jones (9.2 ppg) and Kameron Woods (7.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) are nice pieces in the frontcourt.
Indiana State played horribly in the first half against Memphis and could never recover. The Sycamores entered halftime on the short end of a 40-22 score, following a 28 percent shooting effort in the first 20 minutes. They were out-rebounded, 40-27. Brenton Scott tallied 12 points off the bench as the club's leading scorer.
It may be tough for Indiana State to score against Butler, especially considering it has only made 38.1 percent of its shots from the floor this season. However, the Sycamores have at least kept their opponents to a similar success rate (.389). Khristian Smith (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) desperately needs to bounce back for Indiana State to have a chance in this one. He had only 10 points on 2-of-13 shooting against Memphis. Devonte Brown (13 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the second-leading scorer and top rebounder.