Butler beats Arkansas 79-62 in NCAA tournament

Butler takes on Purdue on Sunday

DETROIT (AP) -- Kelan Martin scored 27 points and Kamar Baldwin added 24 to lift 10th-seeded Butler to a 79-62 victory over seventh-seeded Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region on Friday.

The Bulldogs (21-13) raced to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes. Although Arkansas wiped out that entire deficit before halftime, Butler took control again early in the second.

The Bulldogs advance to play second-seeded Purdue on Sunday.

Jaylen Barford scored 15 points for Arkansas, but the Razorbacks (23-12) struggled in the paint — 6-foot-11 freshman Daniel Gafford managed only two field goals.

After falling behind by 19 early, Arkansas rebounded impressively with a 27-6 run, but the Razorbacks’ lead was brief, and Butler was up 36-31 at halftime.

The Bulldogs quickly pushed the lead back to double digits in the second. Martin, who surpassed 2,000 points for his career during the game, made two 3-pointers in a 9-2 run that made it 49-38.

The Arkansas pregame notes noted that Gafford had 27 more dunks this season than Butler’s whole team, but it was the Bulldogs who threw down the first one of this game when Tyler Wideman slammed in an offensive rebound to make it 7-2. Another Butler dunk — this one by Baldwin — made it 18-2, and after a 3-pointer by Martin, the Razorbacks used their second timeout of the half.

Arkansas answered with a quick 10-0 run, and although Gafford was contributing little offensively, the Razorbacks came all the way back and took a 29-27 lead on a 3-pointer by C.J. Jones.

BIG PICTURE

Butler has won at least one game in four straight NCAA Tournaments, this one in the team’s first season under coach LaVall Jordan. The Bulldogs opened commanding leads over Arkansas in both halves and won on the strength of 11-of-26 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Razorbacks came in shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, but they went just 4 of 18 in this game and didn’t have enough threats inside to make up for that.

UP NEXT

Butler takes on Purdue in an all-Indiana matchup. The Boilermakers beat the Bulldogs 82-67 on Dec. 16, but Purdue won’t have Isaac Haas this weekend after he injured his elbow Friday.

Arkansas heads into the offseason and will have some changes on the horizon. This team had three senior starters.

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