Bulldogs Begin Wisconsin Swing At Milwaukee
LIGHTS: Butler will begin a two-game road trip to
Wisconsin with a key Horizon League game at Milwaukee on Thursday,
Jan. 26. The game matching two of the three teams currently
tied for third in the league standings is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT)
at Milwaukee’s U. S. Cellular Arena and will be broadcast on
ESPN3. Butler is coming off back-to-back wins in
Chicago. The Bulldogs defeated UIC, 57-49, to start their
current four-game road stretch and then beat Loyola, 63-57, two
days later. The two victories lifted Butler to 12-9 on the
season and into a tie for third in the league standings with
Milwaukee and Youngstown State, all at 6-3. The two wins also
gave the Bulldogs a three-game winning streak for just the second
time this season. Milwaukee (13-8), which entered last week
in first place in the Horizon League standings, dropped a pair of
games in Ohio last weekend. The Panthers fell at Youngstown
State, 68-66, and then dropped a first-place showdown at Cleveland
State, 83-57. Milwaukee, 9-1 at home this season, currently
leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense (.406)
and three-point field goal percentage defense (.262), while ranking
second in the league in scoring defense (60.3). Butler and
Milwaukee met at Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year’s Eve, and the
Bulldogs captured a 54-50 decision. Following
Thursday’s game at Milwaukee, the Bulldogs head to northern
Wisconsin to conclude their road trip at Green Bay on Saturday,
Butler and Milwaukee have split their last four meetings in U. S. Cellular Arena.
FRONT RUNNERS: The second round of the 2011-12 Horizon League slate begins this week with five teams separated at the top of the league standings by a single game. Cleveland State and Valparaiso are tied for first place at 7-2, while Butler, Milwaukee and Youngstown State are just a game back. The Bulldogs have exactly the same record (6-3) that they did at the midway point of last year’s league schedule. Butler went on to share the league regular season title with Milwaukee and Cleveland State.
Butler has won five consecutive Horizon League regular season titles.
MOVING FORWARD: Butler is 7-3 in its last ten games, matching Cleveland State and Valparaiso for the Horizon League’s best record over the last ten contests.
CLOSING PERFORMANCE: Butler never trailed after the 10-minute mark of the first half in its victory at Loyola, but the Bulldogs needed a couple of clutch baskets by sophomore Khyle Marshall in the final three minutes to hold off the Ramblers. After Loyola cut Butler’s lead to 51-48 with three minutes remaining, Marshall took a pass from senior Ronald Nored and scored a lay-up to give the Bulldogs a five-point advantage. Then he followed another Loyola basket with a thunderous dunk, and the Ramblers never got closer than four points in the final 1:50. Marshall, who was scoreless in the first half of the game, hit six of seven shots after intermission and finished with 14 points. It was his fourth double-figures scoring performance in the past six games.
POINT PERSON: Senior Ronald Nored, the Horizon League’s active assist leader, had a hand in more than half of Butler’s points at Loyola. The 6-0 point-guard led both teams in scoring with 16 points, and he added a career-high nine assists. He also had six rebounds, a game-high three steals and no turnovers in the Butler victory! Nored’s performance drew praise from both coaches. Butler coach Brad Stevens singled out Nored’s poise in directing Butler’s offense. Loyola coach Porter Moser said, “If you want to be a player, get pen and notebook and sit down and watch Ronald Nored. The kid’s a winner.” Nored averaged 13.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.0 steals on Butler’s two-game trip to Chicago.
Ronald Nored has scored in double-figures in seven of Butler’s last nine games.
DOUBLE TAKE: Junior Andrew Smith pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds to lead all players in Butler’s win at Loyola. He also chipped in with 12 points on five of eight shooting, including two of three from beyond the three-point arc. It was Smith’s third double-double this season and the fourth of his Butler career. The 13 rebounds were the second-most by a Butler player this season (Khyle Marshall had 16 rebounds at Ball State) and the most by a Bulldog in league play. Smith is tied with freshman Kameron Woods for the most double-doubles on the team this season.
Andrew Smith has led Butler in rebounding in seven games this season.
RESERVE POWER: Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins (above right) gave the Bulldogs a lift with eight points and three assists in 19 minutes off the bench at Loyola. He also came off the bench with five points and three rebounds in Butler’s win at UIC. The 6-1 guard helped Butler to a 29-13 advantage in bench scoring in the two Chicago games.
Chrishawn Hopkins has averaged 7.1 points off the bench in Butler’s last seven games.
CHARITABLE SOLUTION: The Bulldogs, who rank ninth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting, were on target from the charity stripe when it counted most in Chicago. Butler converted eight of 10 free throws in the final 1:10 to seal the victory at UIC. Two days later, the Bulldogs connected on eight of eight charity tosses in the final minute of the win at Loyola.
BLOCKING CALL: Butler rolled up a season-high nine blocked shots in the victory at Loyola. Sophomore Khyle Marshall led the way with three rejections, while junior Andrew Smith added two. Six different Butler players had at least on blocked shot in the game.
CENTURY MARK: Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher are bidding to become just the fourth senior class in Butler basketball history to record 100 career victories. The two have helped Butler to a 99-30 record during their time in the program. Willie Veasley and Nick Rogers (2006-10) are Butler’s all-time winningest class with 118 victories, while Matt Howard, Zach Hahn, Shawn Vanzant, Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin (2007-11) finished with 117. The senior class of Darnell Archey, Joel Cornette, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore (1999-2003) finished with 100 wins.
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 Butler’s game at Loyola with 129 career wins, two 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.
ROAD TESTED: After dropping the first four road games this season, the Bulldogs have rebounded with four victories in their last five road contests. Butler has won three of four Horizon League road games, including two straight. The Bulldogs’ four road victories on the season match the third-highest total in the Horizon League.
•Senior Ronald Nored became the fifth player in Butler basketball history to record 400 career assists in Butler’s game at Loyola. He stands fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 407 career assists.
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.9) and he’s third in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.9). Nored has had 30 assists and five turnovers in Butler’s last four games.
•Ronald Nored is third on Butler’s all-time list for steals (182), one behind A. J. Graves (2004-08) in the No. 2 position. Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (2.0).
•Ronald Nored had 12 points and four assists as a starter in Butler’s regular season game at Milwaukee last January. He had just two points in a reserve stint against the Panthers in last year’s league tournament.
•Ronald Nored has had three double-figures scoring performance in four previous games against Milwaukee in U. S. Cellular Arena. Nored has averaged 9.3 points in those four games, with a high of 13 points.
•Junior Andrew Smith has averaged 12.9 points in Butler’s 12 wins this season, but just 7.4 points in the Bulldogs’ nine losses. Butler is 11-2 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith is shooting 59% (38-65) against Horizon League foes this season.
•Andrew Smith ranks third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.6). He had five offensive boards at Loyola.
•Andrew Smith had 10 rebounds against Milwaukee in his last visit to U. S. Cellular Arena last March.
•Junior Chase Stigall ranks seventh in the Horizon League in 3-point field goals (1.8).
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.559). He ranks fourth in the Horizon League. Teammate Andrew Smith is fifth in the league (.524).
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with nine points and six rebounds in nine minutes of action in last year’s game at Loyola.
•Freshman Kameron Woods matched his career-high with three blocked shots at UIC. Woods ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.1).
•Kameron Woods stands seventh in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.3).
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks fourth in the league in offensive rebounds (2.5).
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge has hit 20 of his last 20 free throw attempts, including 13 straight.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie with Jim Crews of Evansville (1985-94) for seventh place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (68). Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.
(Photos by John Fetcho)