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Kelan Martin warms up to help Butler topple Texas Tech

By
The Sports Xchange

RALEIGH, N.C. - All Butler guard Kelan Martin needed was a little time to warm up in the NCAA Tournament.

The sophomore guard didn't score until the Bulldogs really needed him and he came through Thursday afternoon at PNC Arena.

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All 11 of Martin's points came during a four-minute stretch with less than 8 1/2 minutes remaining as Butler pulled away to defeat Texas Tech 71-61 in the first-round game.

"I knew I didn't score (until then)," Martin said. "Coach was telling me on the bench that it was going to come."

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Martin hit consecutive 3-pointers to snap a 48-48 tie and enabled the Bulldogs to break free. He averages 16.1 points per game, so the scoring was bound to come.

"He's wired to score," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. "He needed to let that happen. ... He rolls out of bed ready to score."

Guard Kellen Dunham scored 23 points, forward Tyler Wideman added 14 points and forward Andrew Chrabascz had 13 points for ninth-seeded Butler (22-10)

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Butler will face the winner of the Hampton-Virginia game in Saturday's second round.

Guard Devaugntah Williams' 18 points and forward Justin Gray's 10 points and reserve forward Aaron Ross' 10 points paced eighth-seeded Texas Tech (19-13).

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The Red Raiders were aiming to win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2005.

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Then Martin heated up.

"Those 3s that Kelan Martin made in transition were a dagger," Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.

Butler has won at least one game in eight of its last nine years when it has made an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Dunham has scored in double figures in three of the last five games, and he had some good help in this one.

The Bulldogs made five of seven second-half attempts from 3-point range.

"They stepped up their defense and made some big shots," Smith said.

Martin had missed his first four shots from the field before sending Butler to a 54-48 lead with 7:55 left.

"We were able to weather the storm," Dunham said. "Kelan didn't score in the first half. He stayed aggressive. We trust that he can score the ball for us."

Holtmann said the Bulldogs realized it might not be a free-flowing game. It was the second-lowest winning point total for Butler this season.

"I knew it was going to be a grinding, physical game and it was that," Holtmann said.

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The Bulldogs' 3-point shooting eventually paid off. They finished 9-for-17 for the game.

"Butler made great shots," Gray said. "They were knocking down 3s from everywhere."

The Red Raiders received a second-half boost on the perimeter from Williams, who made 4 of 5 3-pointers after the break to match his season-high for 3s. He reached a double-figure point total for only the second time in the last nine games.

Texas Tech scoring leader Toddrick Gotcher, a fifth-year guard, was held to five points. He came in averaging 11.1 per game.

"In a tournament like this, you've got to make shots," Smith said. "We struggled to make some easy baskets. I don't know how many layups we missed. So you've got to finish plays."

There were nine lead changes and four ties across the game's first 25 minutes.

Butler, despite nine turnovers, led 30-28 at halftime after facing an eight-point hole earlier.

Ross scored eight of Texas Tech's first-half points. He made both of his 3-point attempts, while the rest of the team combined to go 0-for-7 from long range in the first half.

NOTES: This is the 18th season in which Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament. This is the fifth different school that Smith has coached in the tournament. ... Butler junior G Tyler Lewis was back in a familiar building. He played his first two seasons for North Carolina State, which is the site host, prior to transferring. ... Butler won the only previous meeting between the programs with an 81-71 victory in the 2007 Great Alaska Shootout. ... Both teams participated in this season's Puerto Rico Tip-Off. ... Both coaches have close connections to Division I schools in North Carolina. Butler's Chris Holtmann is a former coach at Gardner-Webb, while Smith played and graduated from High Point.

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