Sophomore Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 25 points and sophomore Ronald Nored added a career-high 13, including 11 in the second half, to help Butler overcome a seven-point deficit and post a 73-66 victory at Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 31. The win, Butler's 10th in a row, lifted the first place Bulldogs to 18-4 on the season and 11-0 in the Horizon League.
Hayward, held to eight points in the first half, carried the Bulldogs down the stretch, scoring 17 points in the final 16:28. He hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final period and matched his career-high with 13 made free throws in the game.
Nored scored Butler's first six points of the second half to help the Bulldogs stay with the Panthers (13-10, 5-6 Horizon League), who were looking to upset the league-leaders for the second straight year. Milwaukee led for the final six minutes of the first half, stretching the margin to 35-28, before Butler closed the half with six straight points.
"When we got it to one, we felt a little better about ourselves, even though (Milwaukee) had dominated much of the first half," said Butler coach Brad Stevens. "The last 10 minutes, I thought our guys were really good. I'm really proud of them. It was the fourth straight game on the road and we really stepped it up in the final 10 minutes."
Nored's first two field goals of the second half gave Butler a 38-35 lead, but the Panthers, behind the inside play of Anthony Hill, responded with a 14-4 run to go back on top 49-42. The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead and eventually moved in front, 56-55, on a layup by Nored, his fifth of the game.
"I think I was just trying to be opportunistic," Nored said after the game. "Matt (Howard) made two really good plays in the post, and I just back-cut out of the corner and had a wide-open layup. I was trying to go hard and create for others and some of the lanes just opened up."
Once the Bulldogs got the lead back, they never relinquished it. Butler scored 11 of its final 17 points from the free throw line, including five by Hayward. The Bulldogs had just one field goal in the final seven minutes.
Guard Shelvin Mack finished with 13 points, Howard had 11 before fouling out with 1:05 remaining, and forward Willie Veasley added nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Hill, who had 18 points against the Bulldogs in Indianapolis earlier this month, finished with 21 points, and three different Bulldogs fouled out while trying to guard him. He had 19 points in the first 24 minutes, but just two points in the final 16.
"Hill was killing us and we switched Gordon on him, and Gordon is a terrific post defender. I thought that was pretty critical, the job that he did in there," noted Stevens.
Butler's 10-game winning streak matches the sixth-longest ever by the Bulldogs, and Butler is 11-0 in Horizon League play for the first time in school history.
Butler returns home for its next three games, beginning with a rematch against Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m.