Rushed Reactions: #4 Butler 74 ,#12 Middle Tennessee 65

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 18th, 2017

Butler started the game off perfect on its first four threes and ended up shooting 8-of-15 for the game, keying its 74-65  victory over Middle Tennessee tonight in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Butler Pulled Away From MTSU to Advance to the Sweet Sixteen (USA Today Images)

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. It truly is a” make or miss” game . The major difference in the result of tonight’s game was that Butler simply shot the ball from distance at a much better rate than Middle Tennessee. The Bulldogs shot 53.3 percent from three-point range while Middle Tennessee was only able to muster 21.1 percent. The Blue Raiders ran their offense effectively in getting a number of quality looks, but they simply couldn’t get anything to fall. Most of the other stats on the day were relatively even, but shooting — makes and misses — was the difference-maker.
  2. Butler played like an experienced team. With three graduate transfers in its rotation and a starting lineup that starts all upperclassmen but one — freshman Kamar Baldwin — Butler doesn’t lack for experience. The Bulldogs played like a team that doesn’t easily rattle tonight, taking every punch that Middle Tennessee threw at them and combating it with a key play or basket. The Blue Raiders made several short runs, but Butler and its bevy of veterans always had a counter.
  3. Antwain Johnson was the best player on the floor. Despite the loss, Antwain Johnson put together an outstanding effort tonight. Without getting big games from its three best players except for JaCorey Williams, Johnson kept the Blue Raiders in the game with his ability to get to the basket and attack from the mid-range. It was almost enough to offset a goose egg in the scoring column from Giddy Potts.

Star of the Game. Kelan Martin gets most of his recognition for being Butler’s best offensive player. He contributed a team-high 19 points today, grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists to boot. He also did a quality job in guarding both Williams and Reggie Upshaw. The junior was mostly quiet in the First Round, so getting more games from him like this one bodes well for the rest of the NCAA Tournament.


  • “When they find me in the sweet spot, I have to be aggressive.”- Butler senior forward Andrew Chrabascz on how they isolated him in the post frequently in the second half.
  • “Just make him take tough shots all game. – Freshman Butler guard Kamar Baldwin on his approach to shutting down MTSU star Giddy Potts.
  • “Our man and zone were both really effective. ” – Butler head coach Chris Holtmann, when asked about his team’s defensive effort.

Sights and Sounds. There was a unique interaction between Martin and referee Ed Corbett in the first half today. After making an assist to Baldwin for a layup along with a foul, Martin was a tad overzealous with a fist pump that almost made contact with Corbett’s face. After a stern look followed by a “my bad” from Martin, the two shared a high-five and a chuckle. No harm, no foul.

What’s Next. Butler will now travel to the South Regional in Memphis, where it will play the winner of Sunday’s Second Round game between North Carolina and Arkansas.

Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *