Butler escorts Arkansas out of Big Dance

Butler vs Arkansas odds: point spread, tv channel, preview, March Madness

"The first game is the most important game, and we've got to get prepared to go against a really good Butler basketball team", Anderson said.

The Bulldogs ended Arkansas' run before it could get started as Butler knocked the Razorbacks out of the NCAA Tournament with a 79-62 victory Friday in the first round of the East Regional at Little Caesars Arena before an announced crowd of 20,163.

The victor faces either No. 2 Purdue or No. 15 Cal State Fullerton on Sunday - Butler would love another shot at big-brother in-state rival Purdue (they played in December). Nonetheless, the Bulldogs stormed out of the gates, hitting four of their first five shots on their way to a 21-2 lead over Arkansas.

Arkansas struggled to start the game, going down as much as 21-2.

Senior forward Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 1 assist. Kamar Baldwin finsihed with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field. He also has a terrific freshman big man in Daniel Gafford, who is averaging 11.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.

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"Unfinished business" was a theme for the Razorbacks this season - especially the team's five seniors - after losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in last year's NCAA Tournament second round.

So with its at-large bid, Butler is at the Big Dance for the fourth straight season. Butler shoots almost 10 points higher than Arkansas at the line, 77.1 percent to 67.8 percent. The senior from Tennessee improved in just about every area over last season, but none were more pronounced than his 3-point shooting, which stands at 43.6 percent after shooting below 30 percent last season. "So I know our guys are super, super excited about having a chance to play in this event and having a chance to play against an outstanding Butler team". The Dawgs also showed just how unsafe this team can be when both Martin and Baldwin are firing on all cylinders. Both of the Razorbacks dunks were by Darious Hall.

"We got pounded on the boards, " Anderson said. "I think it's going to be fun, and we're ready to play".

"I just thought we weren't in attack mode", Anderson said. Macon - a 42.9 percent three-pointer shooter - was 1 of 6.

"Stats say they only turn the ball over 11 times a game, "Anderson said". Second-seeded Purdue of the Big Ten, a heavy favorite Friday over its 15th-seeded opponent, is an instate rival to Indianapolis based Butler at nearby West Lafayette, Ind. Well, that's where we come in. "They've got firepower and some offensive weapons that can get you back in the game".

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That could have been a huge emotional swing, but the Bulldogs kept their cool.

Arkansas, after trailing by 19 points in the first half, used a 16-0 run to take a 29-27 lead.

"I didn't expect to beat them by 20", Jordan said. They found a way to get it done and that's all that matters in the end.

Jaylen Barford (15 points) and Daryl Macon (12 points) were Arkansas's only double-digit scorers, as no one else scored over seven points.

The Razorbacks also like to think their pressure defense is uniquely hard, but the Bulldogs like to run nearly as much Anderson's team.

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