Butler Begins Road Stretch At UIC
Butler will begin its longest road stretch of the season when it
visits UIC on Thursday, Jan. 19. The game, which will be the
first of back-to-back Horizon League tests in Chicago for the
Bulldogs, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (CT, 8:30 p.m. in
Indianapolis) and will be webcast on ESPN3. UIC, under
second-year head coach Howard Moore, has established a strong
homecourt presence this season. The Flames (6-11, 2-5 HL)
improved to 6-2 at the UIC Pavilion with a 58-51 victory over
Loyola on Saturday (Jan. 14), and that record includes wins over
Evansville and Detroit, two teams that have beaten the Bulldogs
this year. UIC has won five of its last six home contests,
with the lone setback coming in overtime. The Flames boast
one of the league’s top three-point field goal threats in
junior guard Daniel Barnes (2.5/game), and UIC enters this week as
the league’s top rebounding team with a plus 3.0 rebounding
margin. Butler is coming off a 71-55 homecourt victory over
Youngstown State on Sunday (Jan. 15). That win snapped a
two-game skid for the Bulldogs, and lifted Butler to 10-9 on the
season and 4-3 in Horizon League play. It also boosted the
Bulldogs to 6-3 in the past nine outings. The game at UIC
will be the first of four consecutive road contests for the
Bulldogs. Butler will visit Loyola on Saturday, Jan. 21, for
the Horizon League Network Game of the Week and then make a
two-game swing to Wisconsin to play Milwaukee (Jan. 26) and Green
Bay (Jan. 28).
Butler has two wins in its last three road contests.
CLOSE START: Butler’s two-game trip to Chicago will close out the first half of the 2011-12 Horizon League race. And if the first four weeks of league play are any indication, this year’s race could match last year’s when three teams wound up sharing the league regular season title. Currently, five teams are within two games of first place in the league standings. Milwaukee holds the top spot with a 6-1 record, while Cleveland State and Valparaiso are tied for second at 5-2. Butler and Youngstown State share fourth place with 4-3 records. Cleveland State hosts Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 22. Three of Butler’s first seven Horizon League games were decided in the final minute of play, while a fourth league contest came down to an overtime period.
Butler has won five consecutive Horizon League regular season titles.
WINNING EDGE: Butler rebounded from a 76-69 loss to Cleveland State with a strong overall performance to hand Youngstown State its third league setback. The visiting Penguins jumped to an early 6-2 advantage, before Butler unleashed a 15-3 run to grab a 17-9 lead. The Bulldogs never trailed for the rest of the game. The lead was 34-27 at halftime, and visitors closed to within six points, 37-31, less than two minutes into the second half. But the Bulldogs answered with another 15-3 run to stretch the lead to 18 points with less than 10 minutes remaining, and Youngstown State never got closer than nine points down the stretch. Butler had a 34-24 edge on points in the paint, a 17-6 advantage on second chance points and a 26-4 difference in bench scoring.
INSIDE INFO: Butler looked to junior Andrew Smith (right) against Youngstown State, and the 6-11 center responded with his second-best scoring performance of the season. Smith hit seven of the 13 shots he attempted against the Penguins, and he was perfect on six shots from the free throw line, while compiling a team-high 20 points. He scored the game’s first basket and added eight more points in the first half to help the Bulldogs build a lead that they never relinquished. It was the third 20-point scoring performance of his Butler career, trailing only the 22 points he scored a year ago against Cleveland State and the 21-point effort he had in this year’s season-opener at Evansville.
Andrew Smith has scored in double-figures in six of Butler’s last seven games.
ON TARGET: Andrew Smith hit 10 of 16 shots during Butler’s two-game homestand against Cleveland State and Youngstown State. In the past seven games, Smith has hit 34 of 52 (.654) field goal attempts, and he’s moved into seventh place in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.523). It’s been a considerable climb for the 6-11 center. In the eight games prior to Butler’s victory over Purdue on Dec. 17, Smith had shot just 34% (19-56) from the floor, and he was hitting just .417 from the field when he took the floor against the Boilermakers. Smith hit four of five shots against Purdue, including the game-winning tip-in.
Andrew Smith ranked second in the Horizon League in FG% (.593) a year ago.
MULTI-TASKING: Senior Ronald Nored turned in his usual strong defensive effort in Butler’s victory over Youngstown State, and he effectively ran the Bulldogs’ offense, recording a game-high seven assists. But the 6-0 guard also took on an unexpected role, pulling down a career-high nine rebounds against the Penguins. He had the second-most rebounds of any player in the game, and he had the most defensive boards (8). Nored also chipped in with seven points in the victory.
DOUBLE CHECK: Freshman Kameron Woods may have played the biggest role in swinging momentum Butler’s way against Youngstown State. The 6-8 forward came off the bench and sparked Butler’s initial 15-3 run in opening nine minutes with three offensive rebounds. He converted all three with follow-up baskets, the last giving the Bulldogs a 17-9 advantage. Woods went on to grab six offensive rebounds in the game, helping Butler to 17 second chance points. He posted his third career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, matching current Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (2008-09) and Matt Howard (2007-08), now playing professionally in Greece, for the most double-doubles by a Butler freshman.
TURN ABOUT: Butler, which ranked last in the Horizon League in team field goal shooting (.389) just four games ago, has climbed out of the league shooting basement with four consecutive games of 40% or better shooting. The Bulldogs, who had a season-best shooting performance at Wright State (.565), hit 25 of 56 (.446) shots against Youngstown State. Over the last seven games, the Bulldogs have shot .431 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 six of the past seven outings.
BOARD REVIEW: The Bulldogs, in a virtual tie with UIC for first place in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds, pulled down 13 offensive boards, while out-rebounding Youngstown State, 38-25. Butler is averaging 13.1 offensive rebounds.
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 on Dec. 31. He enters this week’s action with 127 career wins, four 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 (391). He stand fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart.
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.6). He’s fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.6). Nored had 14 assists and three turnovers in Butler’s last two games.
•Ronald Nored is third on Butler’s all-time list for steals (178), five behind A. J. Graves (2004-08) in the No. 2 position. Nored, who had four steals in two games against UIC last year, ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (1.9).
•Ronald Nored has scored in double-figures in five of Butler’s last seven games.
•Junior Andrew Smith has averaged 13.7 points in Butler’s ten wins this season, but just 7.4 points in the Bulldogs’ nine losses. Butler is 10-2 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith is shooting 60% (30-50) against Horizon League foes this season.
•Andrew Smith ranks fifth in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.5). He had three offensive boards against Youngstown State.
•Junior Chase Stigall had a career-high four assists at UIC a year ago, a figure he’s matched twice since.
•Chase Stigall ranks seventh in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (1.8).
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.562). He ranks fourth in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with 11 points in his first meeting with UIC last year. He had five points in 13 minutes at the UIC Pavilion.
•Freshman Kameron Woods has averaged a team-best 6.2 rebounds over the past five games, including a team-high 10 offensive rebounds.
•Kameron Woods stands eighth in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.2).
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the league in offensive rebounds (2.7).
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge turned in his third career double-figures scoring performance with 10 points in 16 minutes against Youngstown State.
•Butler has had eight different players lead the team or share the team lead in scoring in the past 11 games.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved ahead of his former boss, Todd Lickliter, into ninth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (66). Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.