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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 10 Butler at Marquette

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MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — The Butler Bulldogs had lost three consecutive games heading to Milwaukee for their showdown with Marquette, their second ranked opponent in less than a week.

Behind a defensive effort that held the Golden Eagles to less than 30-percent shooting in the second half, the Bulldogs were able to bring that losing streak to an end Wednesday evening with a 69-62 victory.

“All season long we’ve been so damn close, you know,” said head coach Thad Matta after the game. “We needed one of these wins. Because, I’ll tell you, they’re the greatest group of guys I’ve ever coached. We need one like this.”

It didn’t appear it would be a good night for the Dawgs out of the gate as Marquette’s Kam Jones got to work early scoring the Golden Eagles’ first six points. They would jump out to an 8-2 lead early holding Butler to just those two points in the first five minutes.

The official TV timeout would help quench the Bulldogs’ scoring drought as Pierre Brooks sank a three followed by big shots from DJ Davis and Landon Moore.

Enter Posh Alexander, who was held to just three-points in their loss to UConn last Friday. He then scored Butler’s next three buckets in a row, one from three to keep Butler within five.

The Dawgs were down seven at halftime.

The faucet turned off in a big way for Marquette in the second half. Both teams struggled to score a single bucket until just under 18 minutes to play. A short 5-0 swing brought Butler back to within one of Marquette.

A few minutes later a three-pointer by Jehmeyl Telfort sparked a 12-0 run by Butler to take the lead. That run turned into a ten-point lead for the Dawgs with 9:24 left to play.

During that run, Marquette came up empty on three straight possessions, one of which resulted in a block and defensive rebound by Andre Screen.

Moore got a friendly bounce on a three-pointer to give Butler its largest lead of the night at 62-49 with 3:41 to play.

Butler shot 48-percent from the field in the second half and 10-of-22 from three the whole night and would never surrender the lead.

“I’m so happy for our guys,” Matta added. “We’ve been right there in a lot of games this season. I continue to see growth. We had three really good days leading into this game.”

One player he was particularly proud of was Jalen Thomas who finished the game with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds. Alexander (10), Brooks (14), and Moore (14) all scored in double figures as well.

A big quad-1 win for Butler, the victory all but assures that Butler is for real to compete in the Big East this year after going 6-14 in conference play to finish 9th in the league last year.

Now 2-3 in conference play after coming so close to tough competition in the weeks prior, the Bulldogs turn their attention to Seton Hall, whom they will face inside Hinke Fieldhouse this Saturday for a Noon tipoff.