Martin leads Butler past Middle Tennessee and into Sweet 16

MILWAUKEE -- Kelan Martin scored 19 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 15 as fourth-seeded Butler advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 74-65 victory over No. 12 Middle Tennessee Saturday night in a second round NCAA Tournament game at the Bradley Center.

After shooting 49 percent in their opening game against Winthrop Thursday, the Bulldogs' stayed hot against the Blue Raiders. Butler connected connecting on 51.1 percent of their shots including 8 of 15 from beyond the arc while making 18 of 23 free throws.

Inside the second round of March Madness

Butler (25-8) advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2011 when it reached the Final Four for the second straight season and lost to Connecticut. The Bulldogs will face either top seed North Carolina or No. 8 Arkansas Friday in the South Regional semifinal Friday in Memphis.

JaCorey Williams led the Blue Raiders with 20 points and Reggie Upshaw added 12. Giddy Potts, the Blue Raiders' second-leading scorer this season at 15.8 points per game was held scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting, including 0-of-3 from 3-point range.

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Middle Tennessee (31-5) overcame a slow start and heated up in the second half, but struggled from distance, hitting just 1 of 8 attempts in the first half and 4 of 19 overall.

Butler shot 50 percent and hit six of nine 3-pointers -- two each from Avery Woodson, Kamar Baldwin and Martin -- in the first half. A late cold spell allowed Middle Tennessee to sneak back into the game and cut the deficit to 36-31 at halftime.

Williams scored six in a row at one point for the Blue Raiders and went into the break with 11 points and six rebounds. The Blue Raiders committed only four turnovers, but shot just 40 percent and missed eight of 11 3-point attempt.

They got even colder in the second half, hitting four of their first 13. A jumper from Antwain Johnson got Middle Tennessee within six at the 13:48 mark, but Butler quickly stretched its lead back to double digits.

A 9-0 run late got the Blue Raiders within three but a 3-pointer from Chrabascz stopped the bleeding and Lewis sank of free throws to put the Bulldogs back up by six with 2:58 to play.

NOTES: The Bulldogs are 15-3 this season when Tyler Lewis finishes with four or more assists; he had four against MTSU. ... Middle Tennessee finished the season with 31 victories, the third-highest total in the nation behind only Gonzaga (34-1) and Villanova (32-4).