INDIANAPOLIS – Khyle Marshalls rise from complementary piece to legitimate star helped Butler surpass early expectations.
Now the Bulldogs enter their inaugural Big East schedule with plenty of momentum.
Marshall scored 21 points and little-used freshman Rene Castro added 10 off the bench as Butler slugged its way to a 66-48 victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday. Kameron Woods chipped in nine points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
It was the final nonconference game for Butler (10-2), which opens league play Tuesday by playing host to No. 8 Villanova. The Bulldogs have won five in a row since losing twice at the Old Spice Classic.
Im not surprised at all, Woods said of Marshalls emergence. I was his backup for two years and hes taught me a lot. With our main post guy, Drew (Smith), gone from last year, hes stepped up on both ends.
Kellen Dunham had just nine points on Saturday and the Bulldogs, picked to finish ninth in the reformed, 10-team Big East, didnt miss a beat.
First-year coach Brandon Miller said the nonconference schedule helped Butler prepare for the next portion of the season and a new chapter in program history.
I like where we are right now, Miller said. Weve definitely improved from the start of the season. I liked our nonconference in terms of the styles we faced. Weve seen a variety of styles like well see in the Big East.
NJIT (6-9), the lone Division I independent, lost its fifth straight.
INDIANA STATE 85, BELMONT 73: In Terre Haute, the Sycamores (9-3) were led by Jake Odem who scored 25 points.
The Bruins had a one-point lead in the second half until a basket from Odum put Indiana State up for good at 51-50 with 10:06 remaining.
Craig Bradshaw scored 18 points to lead Belmont (8-6), which has lost four straight.
EVANSVILLE 96, GRAMBLING ST. 61: In Evansville, D.J. Balentine scored 20 points to lead the Purple Aces, who shot 60 percent from the floor.
Blake Simmons and Jaylon Brown both had 14 points for Evansville (7-6), while Egidiju Mockevicius and Duane Gibson added 10 points.
Grambling State (1-7) was paced by ATorri Shine with 13 points; Antwan Scott added 10 points and six assists.
No.13 HUNTINGTON 72, LAWRENCE TECH 48: At Huntington, the Foresters (13-1) were led by Shane Merryman with 23 points, Derek Hinen who scored 13, and Daniel Woll who added 12.
The Blue Devils (3-12) were led by Brad Watterworth who scored 10 points.
HUNTINGTON 65, SAINT FRANCIS (Ill.) 48: In Chicago, three Foresters scored in the double-digits on the opening day of the Saint Xavier Holiday Tournament.
Pazia Speed scored 15 points, Amelia Recker had 14 and Miranda Palmer added 10 for Huntington.
Saint Francis (3-12) was led by Caleigh Hill who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
SIENA HEIGHTS 80, GRACE 47: In Chicago, Najee Brazzle led Siena Heights (8-5) with 16 points in their win on the first day of the Roosevelt Holiday Hoops Tournament.
Allison Kauffman scored 10 points to lead the Lancers (6-8).