Butler 72, UIC 65 - Feb. 7, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler overcame the loss of its leading scorer and rebounder and an early second half deficit to hand visiting UIC a 72-65 setback in a hard-fought Horizon League game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday, Feb. 7. The win lifted the Bulldogs into a tie for fourth place in the league standings.
Senior Matt Howard, the league's second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder, suffered a blow to the head right before halftime and left the floor covered in blood. He received eight stitches to close a wound above his right eye, but did not return to the bench in the second half.
In Howard's absence, the Bulldogs turned to senior Zach Hahn, juniors Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored and freshman Khyle Marshall to secure the league victory.
"When Matt goes down, I think he's our hardest playing player, everyone's got to step up their play a little bit because you lose his effort and toughness, so everyone's got to be just a little bit tougher," said Nored
The Bulldogs (16-9, 8-5 Horizon League), adjusting to playing without their 6-8 leader, fell behind 39-38 two-and-a-half minutes into the second half. Marshall put Butler back in front with a short jump shot. Back-to-back baskets by sophomore Andrew Smith gave the Bulldogs a five-point advantage, but UIC's Robo Kreps nailed a three-point field goal to cut Butler's lead to 44-42 with 14:42 remaining.
That's when Hahn ignited a decisive 15-4 Butler run. The 6-0 guard sandwiched a driving lay-up and a three-point field goal around a dunk by UIC's Dorian Tyler. Nored then cashed a pair of free throws and a lay-up to give Butler a 53-44 advantage.
UIC's Dipanjot Singh briefly halted the run with a jump shot, but the Bulldogs came right back with a jump shot by senior Shawn Vanzant, a lay-up by Hahn and a driving lay-up by Mack to give Butler a 13-point lead, 59-46 with 7:42 left.
The Flames (6-19, 1-12 HL) did cut the margin to four, 62-58, with four-and-a-half minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs out-scored the visitors, 10-7, down the stretch to hold on to the victory.
"I thought Ron played great and I thought the five guys who went in at the start of the second half did a nice job, and I thought Zach came in and obviously made some big plays," Butler head coach Brad Stevens said of his team's key second half run.
"Defensively we were really active, and I thought our guards were outstanding on the ball. We turned them over a few times on out-of-bounds under and scored off them," added the Butler coach.
Mack led the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Marshall finished with 11. Nored had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Hahn added 10 points. Kreps led all scorers with 22 points, while Paul Carter added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Flames.
The Bulldogs, tied with Milwaukee in the league standings behind Valparaiso (9-3), Cleveland State (10-4) and Wright State (10-4), will play the second game of their three-game homestand on Thursday, Feb. 10, against Wright State. That game will tip at 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse.