INDIANAPOLIS (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes stood their ground for most of the game against powerful Butler in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the Bulldogs caught fire midway through the second half and held on for an 81-69 victory.
The Utes fall to 6-2 overall on the season, while the Bulldogs pushed its record to 7-2 and picked up the nation’s third-longest non-conference home winning streak with its 40th straight victory.
“We didn’t guard them and we turned the ball over,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It’s a bad combination. When you’re taking the ball out of the net and you’re throwing the ball away, it’s a series of four-point plays.”
Kelan Martin torched the Utes for 29 points on 12 of 19 from the field, made three 3-pointers and grabbed 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
Tyler Wildeman had 18 points for Butler, while Paul Jorgensen made 4 of 6 three-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Sedrick Barefield finished with 14 points, while Gabe Bealer and Justin Bibbins each added 10. It wasn’t nearly enough for the Utes (6-2), who lost for the first time in three games.
Leading scorer David Collette got into foul trouble and finished with just 6 points in 20 minutes of action.
Utah shot just 42 percent from the field, while Butler made 55 percent of its shots.
Getting the upper hand sure wasn’t easy, though.
The Bulldogs blew an early seven-point lead and trailed by as much as 25-17 midway through the first half before closing the half on a 17-6 spurt to take a 34-31 lead.
Utah tied score at 39 on Bealer’s 3-pointer less than three minutes into the second half. But the Bulldogs answered with a 14-0 run that ended with Jorgensen’s last 3 and Baldwin’s scoring flurry made it 70-55 with 5:41 left.
The Utes got one more chance, going on a 12-2 spurt to close to 74-69 with 2:29 left.
Martin sealed it with a long jumper and a 3 to make it 76-69.
Utah will be back in action this Saturday, Dec. 9, taking on Utah State in the first game of the Beehive Classic at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.