The Butler men’s basketball team got off to a rough start against the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Tuesday night. Kellen Dunham hit a deep three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the first half to give the Bulldogs a 25-22 lead at the break.
Butler didn’t look back from there, going on to win 70-48.
Dunham led the way for the Bulldogs (2-0) with 26 points. Dunham was 7-of-12 from the field and 2-of-5 from three-point range. He knocked down 10-of-12 free throws. The rest of the team was 11-of-22 from the line.
Dunham said he credits his big night to the coaches’ game plan for the Mocs.
“The coaches just did an extremely nice job of putting me in positions that they know are my strengths, and running plays that were effective to Chattanooga’s defense,” Dunham said.
The Bulldogs shot 34.8 percent from the field in the first half and 41.5 percent for the game.
Guard Casey Jones led the way for Chattanooga (1-2) with 14 points. Eric Robertson had 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting – all from beyond the arc.
Butler had a 29-12 assist-to-turnover ratio in the season opener against Maine, but had 11 assists and 11 turnovers Tuesday night.
Interim head coach Chris Holtmann said the Bulldogs’ coaching staff “had a few sleepless nights” preparing for Chattanooga.
“People who maybe follow us in some cases don’t know how capable teams like this are,” Holtmann said. “All you’ve got to do is look at college basketball and you see a lot of teams that get beat by schools that maybe some people haven’t necessarily heard of. That’s happened this whole first week.”
First year Chattanooga coach Will Wade said the Mocs didn’t plan on using a zone defense, but had to out of necessity because of their foul trouble. Holtmann said he thought his Bulldogs did a good job of responding to something they didn’t necessarily plan on seeing.
“When teams early in the year change defenses like they did, it can cause some problems,” Holtmann said. “It did for us there in the first half, but I thought our defense was outstanding the entire night,” Holtmann said.
Wade called Tuesday’s contest “a tale of two halves.” He said he thinks Butler is much improved compared to last year.
“Butler’s got a good team,” Wade said, “and they’ll certainly be probably more competitive in the Big East this season.”
Junior Roosevelt Jones had eight points and seven assists.
Butler hosts Loyola University (Maryland) Saturday at 5:00 p.m. The Greyhounds are 1-1 and host the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Wednesday night.
Loyola lost its season opener 71-59 at Texas Tech Friday night and beat Cornell 76-71 at home Sunday.
Andre Walker and Eric Laster lead the Greyhounds with 14 points per game. Tyler Hubbard is getting 13.5 points per game.
The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 2.