INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Butler senior guard Kamar Baldwin had been limited to 19 minutes in the first two games with a rib cartilage injury.
Tuesday night, Baldwin was finally able to cut loose, scoring 27 points in 35 minutes to lead the Bulldogs to a 64-56 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night in the Gavitt Tipoff Games between Big East and Big Ten teams.
Baldwin made 10 of 24 shots and 5 of 6 free throws.
"I felt better in the second half," Baldwin said of his comfort level. "In the first half, I was really nervous, honestly. As far as the injury, I was fine. I was taking what the defense allowed. I think I forced it a little bit too much at times. I just got to grow from that."
Bryce Nze contributed 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds and Jordan Tucker scored 10 for the Bulldogs (3-0).
"Bryce did a good job early, getting rebounds," Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. "Jordan did a good job late making free throws. Jordan was a little anxious in the first half. We moved him around to guard some bigger guys. I was proud of him."
Daniel Oturu paced the Golden Gophers (1-2) with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
"Daniel was really good and he was sick, too," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "He was throwing up at halftime. He was very effective and our guys figured out to get him the ball. He was demanding it."
Payton Willis added 13 points for Minnesota.
"Our guys fought but we turned the ball over at an alarming rate," Pitino said. "Butler is aggressive defensively. On the road, you have zero chance of winning if you turn the ball over 18 times. We played hard, we just got to play smarter."
Butler shot 38% from the floor, while the Gophers made 33%.
"I thought we did a good job getting to their shooters," Jordan said. "Their big guy (Oturu) is good. He's hard to handle."
Minnesota held a 35-33 rebounding edge.
The Bulldogs made just 3 of 14 3-pointers for 21%.
Butler used an 8-0 run to take a 46-39 lead with 7:40 to go. The Bulldogs pushed the lead 54-44 with 4:57 left, its largest lead of the game. The Gophers narrowed the deficit to 57-51 with 2:04 remaining but could not get any closer. Tucker was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three free throws with 59.7 seconds left to give Butler a 60-51 cushion.
"We talked in the pregame about just staying the course," Jordan said. "Our guys did a good job helping each other. We made some loud mistakes when we did make them."
Sean McDermott's layup with 2 seconds left in the first half gave the Bulldogs a 29-26 lead.
Butler led by as many as eight points in the opening half at 19-11 with 6:30 left.
The Bulldogs shot 41% percent in the first half while the Gophers shot 36%.
The Gophers committed twice as many turnovers (18-9) as the Bulldogs. Even bigger, Butler got 25 points off those turnovers compared to two for Minnesota.
Minnesota: The Gophers again struggled from the 3-point line, shooting just 26 percent. Minnesota shot 25 percent in its 71-62 loss to Oklahoma at Sioux Falls, S.D. on Saturday.
Butler: The Bulldogs continue their home dominance in nonconference games, winning their 53rd consecutive game. Only Duke has a longer active streak.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers will play their third consecutive game away from home at Utah on Friday night.
Butler: The Bulldogs will play host to Wofford on Saturday in the first of two home games in the Hall of Fame Classic. The final two games will be played in Kansas City.