No. 18 Butler holds off DePaul for 77-72 win
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Kellen Dunham warmed up with two free throws, and then made two straight 3-pointers — all in the first 3 minutes.
Dunham found his stroke at a key moment for No. 18 Butler.
The senior guard scored 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting, and the Bulldogs edged DePaul 77-72 on Tuesday night.
“He was really efficient and I thought his teammates did a nice job getting the ball to him at the right time,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said.
The Bulldogs (12-3, 1-2) put four players in double figures in their first Big East win after consecutive losses to No. 8 Providence and No. 10 Xavier. Andrew Chrabascz added 16 points, Roosevelt Jones scored 15 and Kelan Martin had 12 points, including a poster-worthy dunk over DePaul’s Darrick Wood in the second half.
Dunham was 4 for 7 from beyond the arc in his return to the starting lineup after Holtmann tried using his leading scorer off the bench in Saturday’s 88-69 loss to the Musketeers. He made just 14 of 72 shots over his previous six games.
With a matchup against No. 11 Villanova looming on Sunday night, the Bulldogs needed Dunham to return to form, and he delivered.
“Playing with guys like Tyler (Wideman) and Roosevelt make my life easy,” he said. “I’m getting easier shots than I would have in the past few years and overall, just trusting the work I’ve put in my shot.”
Myke Henry had 22 points and 10 rebounds for DePaul (6-9, 0-3), which has dropped three straight and six of seven. Tommy Hamilton IV added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Wood scored 15 points.
“It’s hard to compete when we’re beating ourselves,” Henry said. “So I think we got to look within ourselves to stop beating DePaul and make the other school beat us.”
R.J. Curington made two free throws to give the Blue Demons a 55-50 lead with 9:12 left, but Butler responded with a 12-2 run. Martin kicked it off with two foul shots and finished the surge with a layup that made it 62-57 with 5:43 to go.
Henry’s layup got DePaul within three in the final seconds, but Dunham made two foul shots to help the Bulldogs hold on for their fourth straight win in the series.
Butler turned 17 DePaul turnovers into 24 points, helping offset a 39-25 rebounding advantage for the Blue Demons.
“We gave the ball back to them too many times, first of all, and then some of the times that we gave it back to them were unforced errors that turned into baskets,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.
ON THE GLASS
Butler has been outrebounded in each of its last three games. The Bulldogs are averaging 38.3 rebounds per game, compared to 33.1 for their opponent.
“Our rebounding is a concern for me right now,” Holtmann said. “This is a very good rebounding team we played and they gave it to us here tonight.”
Butler: Dunham scored 24 points in each of Butler’s two wins against DePaul last season. ... Jones had five steals and four assists. ... Wideman finished with six points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
DePaul: Billy Garrett Jr. had nine points, leaving him with 995 for his career. ... Freshman G Erten Gazi did not play. “Last few days, he’s been a little light-headed,” Leitao said, “and he was a little light-headed before the game, so we decided to kind of be very cautious about it.” ... Henry played the whole game.
Butler hosts No. 11 Villanova on Sunday night.
DePaul visits Georgetown on Saturday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap