OFFENSE: Butler, coming off a game against one of
the Horizon League’s best defensive teams, will face the
league’s top long-range shooting squad when Youngstown State
visits Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday, Jan. 15. The 2 p.m.
contest will be televised in central Indiana on WNDY-TV.
Youngstown State has used a lethal three-point shooting attack to
engineer its best Horizon League start since joining the conference
in 2001. The Penguins (9-7, 4-2 HL) lead the league in
three-point field goals per game (9.2) and in three-point field
goal shooting (.386), and 41% of the team’s offense comes
from beyond the three-point arc. Coach Jerry Slocum’s
squad boasts four of the league’s top 10 players in
three-point field goals made, including individual leader Blake
Allen (3.2/game). The Penguins, who dropped a 76-62 decision
at Valparaiso on Friday (Jan. 13), hit 10 three-point field goals
in the second half at Butler a year ago, and they’ve already
had as many as 12 three-pointers in a half this season!
Butler is trying to rebound from a 76-69 loss to league-leading
Cleveland State on Friday. That setback to the defense-driven
Vikings left Butler at .500 (9-9) on the season and in league play
(3-3). The Bulldogs have not lost consecutive league games at
home since 2004-05. Following the Youngstown State game,
Butler will begin a stretch of four consecutive road contests at
UIC on Thursday, Jan.
Butler is 25-9 following a loss under head coach Brad Stevens.
‘DOGS HOUSE: Butler’s loss to Cleveland State dropped the Bulldogs to 6-4 at home on the season. That matches the most home losses by a Butler team since 1994-95, when the Bulldogs finished 8-6 at home. In the past 21 years, only one Butler team has lost more than four home games in a season. Since Stevens took over as head coach, Butler is 62-9 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs have won 36 of 40 Horizon League regular season home games.
Butler is 158-23 at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
CLOSE CALLS: Butler’s last five wins have come by an average margin of 3.2 points. The Bulldogs’ three Horizon League wins each were decided in the final minute of play.
STEEP CLIMB: Butler found itself in a 20-4 hole in the first eight minutes of its game with Cleveland State and the rest of the contest was an uphill climb. The Bulldogs did close to within two points, 35-33, at halftime and eventually took a 41-40 lead on a pair of free throws by junior center Andrew Smith four minutes into the second half. But Cleveland State answered with a 9-1 run to take the lead for good. The Vikings, boasting the league’s best overall record, stretched their margin to 11 points, 59-48, with just over eight minutes remaining, before Butler staged another comeback. The Bulldogs, behind some late three-point shooting, closed the gap to three points, 72-69, with less than a half minute remaining, but Cleveland State held on with four consecutive free throws.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: Butler, which has struggled from the three-point arc this year, turned in a season-best long-range shooting performance against Cleveland State. The Bulldogs connected on 10 of 21 shots from beyond the three-point arc against the Vikings, reaching double-digits in three-pointers made for just the third time this season. The .476 three-point shooting percentage topped Butler’s previous best of .455 set in the Bulldogs’ victory at Stanford, and the 10 three-pointers matched the Stanford game for Butler’s most against a Division I foe this season. The Bulldogs hit 15 three-point field goals against Division II foe Oakland City. Butler entered the Cleveland State game averaging 5.9 three-point field goals per game.
Butler hit 17 three-point field goals in two games against Youngstown State last year.
ON TARGET: Junior Andrew Smith was perfect from the field (3-3) against Cleveland State, while leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 13 points. In the past six games, Smith has hit 27 of 39 (.692) field goal attempts and averaged 11.8 points. The 6-11 center, who hit 10 of 17 shots on Butler’s recent two-game road trip to Wright State and Detroit, connected on five of seven field goal attempts in the Bulldogs’ win at Stanford, and then he hit five of six against Green Bay and four of six against Milwaukee. In the eight games prior to Butler’s victory over Purdue, Smith had shot just 34% (19-56) from the floor.
Andrew Smith ranked second in the Horizon League in FG% (.593) a year ago.
GUARD PLUS: Senior Ronald Nored entered the season as perhaps Butler’s best individual defender. Over the past five games, he’s also become one of the team’s top scorers. Nored, who had 12 points against Cleveland State, has averaged 11.2 points over the past five contests, while shooting .469 from the field and .545 from beyond the three-point arc. The 6-0 guard shared Butler’s scoring lead against Green Bay with 13 points, and then he led the Bulldogs at Detroit with 13 points. He’s scored in double-figures in five of Butler’s last six outings.
IMPROVING TOUCH: Butler, which ranked last place in the Horizon League in team field goal shooting (.389) just three games ago, has climbed out of the league shooting basement with three consecutive games of 40% or better shooting. The Bulldogs had a season-best shooting performance at Wright State (.565) and then followed that with 52% shooting in the second half at Detroit. Over the last six games, the Bulldogs have shot .428 from the field and recorded two of the top three single game performances of the season. In the first 12 games this season, Butler topped 40% from the field just four times. The Bulldogs have shot 40% or better in five of the past six outings.
SCORING BOOST: Sophomore Khyle Marshall (right) posted his third consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 11 points against Cleveland State. It’s the longest stretch of double-figures scoring performances of his young career. Marshall, Butler’s second-leading scorer, has averaged 12.0 points in 2012.
MAN OF STEAL: Ronald Nored recorded a pair of steals against Cleveland State and moved into sole possession of third place on Butler’s all-time steals list. Nored trails A. J. Graves, 2004-08, in second place on the all-time list by five thefts. Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002, is Butler’s all-time leader with 207 career steals.
TOP TEN: Brad Stevens became the tenth coach in Horizon League history to record 125 career victories while a member of the league with the Bulldogs’ win over Milwaukee in the last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. He enters this weekend’s action with 126 career wins, five behind his former boss, Todd Lickliter (2001-07) in ninth place on the league’s overall wins list. Perry Watson of Detroit owns the league record with 261 victories from 1993 to 2008.
•Senior Ronald Nored is the Horizon League’s active leader in career assists (384). He stand fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart.
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.4). He’s sixth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.5).
•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (2.1). Nored had four steals against Youngstown State at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.
•Junior Andrew Smith had averaged 13.0 points in Butler’s nine wins this season, but just 7.4 points in the Bulldogs’ nine losses. Butler is 9-2 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith has climbed into seventh place in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.521).
•Andrew Smith had 11 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes in his last meeting with Youngstown State a year ago.
•Andrew Smith is Butler’s leading scorer at Hinkle Fieldhouse (10.4) this season.
•Junior Chase Stigall posted his first double-figures scoring performance in the past seven games with 12 points against Cleveland State.
•Chase Stigall, Butler’s leader in three-point field goals, has hit 25 of his 34 three-pointers on the season in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
•Chase Stigall ranks sixth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (1.9).
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.563). He ranks third in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with seven points in 12 minutes in Butler’s victory over Youngstown State at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.
•Freshman Kameron Woods came off the bench with a team-high eight rebounds against Cleveland State. It was the second time in four games that he’s led the Bulldogs.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the league in offensive rebounds (2.9).
•Roosevelt Jones had career-highs of seven free throws made and 14 free throw attempts against Cleveland State.
•Butler hit a season-high 25 free throws against Cleveland State, but needed a season-high 42 attempts to reach that total.
•Butler has had eight different players lead the team or share the team lead in scoring in the past ten games.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie with his former boss, Todd Lickliter, for ninth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (65). Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.