Junior Matt Howard scored 17 points, sophomore
Ronald Nored added a career-high 16, and Butler picked up its
Horizon League-record 17th league win with a 73-55 victory over
visting UIC at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Feb. 17. The
win boosted the Bulldogs to 24-4 on the season and kept Butler
unbeaten in league play.
The Bulldogs started slowly and actually trailed midway through the first half, 15-14. But Nored sparked a 9-0 run and the Bulldogs never looked back. The 6-0 guard hit a lay-up to give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 16-15 and then followed a pair of free throws by senior Willie Veasley with a conventional three-point play to give Butler a 21-15 advantage. Veasley finished the run with a lay-up.
Butler stretched the lead to as many as 10 points in the first half, before settling for a 32-25 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs out-scored UIC (6-20, 2-14 HL), 19-10, in the first eight minutes of the second half and the visitors never got closer than 10 points for the rest of the game. Butler stretched the margin to as many as 26 points late in the contest.
“(UIC) sat in that two-three zone and our guys made enough plays. Ron did a great job of getting to the basket,” noted Butler head coach Brad Stevens. “I thought we played pretty well at times and at other times not as well as you want to. But that’s part of college basketball.”
Howard hit just three of eight shots in the game, but he was perfect on 11 free throw attempts. Nored converted seven of nine shots from the field and added a team-high four assists. Sophomore Gordon Hayward recorded his third consecutive double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Guard Robo Kreps led UIC with 15 points, while forward Jeremy Buttell added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The win was Butler’s 16th in a row, setting a school record for consecutive victories. It also tied Butler with Murray State for the longest winning streak in the nation.
“(The streak’s) not something we’ve talked about. We didn’t mention it in the locker room. Maybe we can sit and enjoy it a little bit in April or May, but now is not the time, especially with the team that’s coming in here Saturday,” stated Stevens.
The Bulldogs will host MAAC leader Siena on Saturday (Feb. 20) at 11 a.m. (ET) in the premier game of the annual BracketBusters event.
Bulldog Bits: Butler has won 19 consecutive Horizon League regular season games, dating back to last season...Butler’s 24 wins matches the 1921-22 and 2000-01 teams for the sixth-highest victory total in Butler men’s basketball history...Matt Howard has moved into 20th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,228 career points.
(Photos by John Fetcho)