BY MATTHEW VANTRYON | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
The Butler men’s basketball team (14-16, 4-14) celebrated senior day Saturday afternoon against Seton Hall (15-16, 6-12). Sophomore guard Kellen Dunham stole the show, and Butler rolled to a 71-54 victory.
Dunham dominated for the Bulldogs in the opening minutes, connecting on 5-of-5 attempts from behind the arc and scoring 19 points for Butler in the first half. Dunham scored a game-high 29 points.
Coach Brandon Miller marveled at Dunham’s success.
“I feel like every shot he threw up was going into today,” Miller said.
Dunham sat out for the last minutes of the half due to foul trouble.
Butler began the contest scorching the nets, shooting 9-of-11 from the field and hitting its first eight shots from deep.
They built as great as a 20-point lead with more than six minutes to play in the half.
The offense stalled as Dunham sat. Seton Hall cut the deficit as Butler failed to convert a field goal in the final 6:05 of the period.
Butler capitalized on miscues in the half, however, scoring 14 points off seven Seton Hall turnovers. The Bulldogs went into the half leading 40-30.
The Bulldogs continued their offensive dominance in the second half, beginning on a 8-0 run behind a pair of 3-point baskets to widen their lead to 18.
They were able to coast to their second consecutive victory. Butler has won its last two games by a combined 50 points.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall scored 10 points in his final home game, while Erik Fromm netted nine points.
Fromm said the reality of finishing his HinkleFieldhouse career hasn’t hit home yet.
“It hasn’t sunken in at all,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to have a Senior Day anywhere but Butler.”
Marshall shared Fromm’s sentiment.
“It’s tough to believe we won’t play another game inside Hinkle Fieldhouse,” Marshall said. “I’m very happy all the fans were able to share this with us, and it’s definitely an emotional time. But I’m happy to come out with a win.”
Butler will now shift its focus to the Big East tournament in New York City. The Bulldogs will face a familiar foe in Seton Hall on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Miller said the focus doesn’t change just because the opponent is familiar.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to play the team we just played on Saturday, but in a Big East season, you know your opponent,” said the first-year head coach. “You make sure you’re very well prepared come Wednesday and you play the game.”
The task of winning the conference tournament is tall, even daunting, for the Bulldogs. The only way they will be dancing in the NCAA National Championship Tournament is with four straight wins against the elite of the conference.
However, Butler is 22-5 in the month of March over the past five seasons. Fromm said he believes in the team and also noted a change in the calendar.
“March has been good to Butler, and I’m sure it will continue,” he said.