SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kelan Martin scored 18 points as No. 18 Butler remained undefeated with a 68-59 victory over Utah on Monday night. The loss was the first of the season for the Utes.
Butler controlled the game from the opening tip and trailed just once at 20-19. The Bulldogs responded to that with a 14-3 run to take a 10-point lead.
A 13-4 run early in the second half, highlighted by a deep 3-pointer from Tyler Lewis, put Utah away. Butler did what it’s done all season — shoot well from the field, play stingy defense and limit turnovers. The Bulldogs shot 52.8 percent and held the Utes to 36.5 percent.
Tyler Wideman chipped in 15 points for Butler, which moved into the Top 25 earlier Monday.
Kyle Kuzma led Utah with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Lorenzo Bonam finished with 17 points.
Butler took a 33-27 lead into halftime after a clunky first half in which both teams struggled in its own way. The Bulldogs were efficient from the field, shooting 56.0 percent, and played stout defense. That defense, however, fouled so often Utah was able to remain in the game.
The Utes missed open shots, layups and turned over the ball repeatedly. They shot just 30.8 percent in the first half, including 2 for 13 from behind the arc, but outrebounded the Bulldogs by nine and hit eight more free throws. That balanced the 10 turnovers and the 17 points Butler scored off them.
Butler: The Bulldogs are rolling after a road trip that included wins over Utah, No. 16 Arizona and Vanderbilt. Butler has a strong chance of an 11-0 start heading into the Crossroads Classic against No. 13 Indiana.
UTAH: The Utes were tested for the first time after beginning the season against two Division II teams and two lower non-Power 5 teams. The team clearly awaits the availability of point guard Sedrick Barefield and power forward David Collette, who will be eligible against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 17 after transferring in last year.
Butler just entered the Top 25 this week and don’t look to be going anywhere soon. Monday should be considered the fourth quality win of the season and with just a home game against Central Arkansas remaining this week, the Bulldogs are unlikely to drop.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak remains at 99 wins wearing the red and white. He currently sits at 99-74 in his sixth season. Krystkowiak had a 42-20 record in two seasons at Montana from 2004-06.
Butler: The Bulldogs return from a three-game road trip to host Central Arkansas on Saturday.
Utah: The Utes host Montana State on Thursday in their sixth straight home game to open the season.