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Butler uses emotions to put away St. John's

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 16, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kellen Dunham scored 24 points and Kelan Martin added 22 as No. 23 Butler pulled away from struggling St. John's for a 78-58 victory Saturday.
 
The Bulldogs (13-4, 2-3 Big East) ended a two-game losing streak on an emotional day that included a pregame tribute to former center Andrew Smith and a halftime speech from his young widow, Samantha. The 25-year-old Smith died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.
 
Dunham is one of two players on Butler's current roster who played with Smith.
 
St. John's (7-12, 0-6) was led by Federico Mussini with 14 points and Felix Balamou with 13. But the Red Storm lost their school-record ninth straight.
 
The Bulldogs were sloppy early, but finally seized control by scoring the last 10 points of the first half to take a 39-25 lead. They never allowed St. John's to get closer than 11 points in the second half.
 
This game was about a lot more than basketball, though.
 
On what had already been billed as "Stay Positive Day," a tribute to two-time cancer survivor Eric Day, the usually boisterous Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd stayed mostly subdued -- other than the pregame video to honor Smith and the halftime speech from Smith's wife.
 
 
"Andrew and I have had this game on our calendar to come to. I say that and we were supposed to come here together," Smith said from midcourt, her voice cracking. "We didn't come because it was easy. It's really hard."
 
 
Fourteen members of the Smith family attended the game.
 
 
Butler was not itself early. The Bulldogs started 3 of 11 from the field with no 3-pointers and eight turnovers in less than 8 minutes -- not good for a team averaging just 9.4 turnovers per game.
 
St. John's was almost as sloppy.
 
But eventually, the Bulldogs got it together.
 
They broke a 16-16 tie with six straight points, took control with the 10-0 run to end the first half and were in complete control the second half.
 
MORE TRIBUTES
 
On Sunday, the Smith family will hold a celebration of life for Smith at Traders Point Christian Church in Whitestown, Indiana. Doors open at 4 p.m., the service begins at 5 p.m. and it will be live streamed at TPCC.org. The Andrew Smith Scholarship Fund has been established to provide scholarship support for future men's basketball players. Contributions can be made online at Bulldognation.butler.edu/andrewsmith. Smith's family asked that flowers be sent to Flanner & Buchanan in Zionsville, Indiana. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations can be made to Be The Match. Donations can be made online at  https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-financially/.
 
TIP-INS
 
St. John's: Has lost three straight against Butler after winning the first three in the series. ... St. John's is 0-6 against ranked teams this season. ... Red Storm coach Chris Mullin, who played on the Indiana Pacers' Eastern Conference championship team in 1999-2000, returned to Indy for the first time as a head coach. ... The Red Storm finished with six blocks.
 
Bulldogs: Dunham has made 13 of his last 22 3s after missing 23 straight. ... All Big East games this weekend will have a moment of silence before tip-off in Smith's honor. ... Jones moved within 18 points of passing Thomas Jackson and Tom Bowman (1,334) for No. 20 on the Bulldogs' career scoring list.
 
UP NEXT
 
St.  John's hosts Marquette on Jan. 23.
 
Butler travels to No. 12 Providence on Tuesday

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