Butler Closes Regular Season At Valparaiso
LEAGUE FINISH: Butler will close out its 2011-12 regular season slate and try to hold on to second place in the Horizon League standings when it visits league-leading Valparaiso on Friday, Feb. 24. The 7 p.m. (ET) contest at Valparaiso's Athletics-Recreation Center will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Butler (18-12) moved into second in the league standings with a 69-44 victory at home over UIC on Tuesday, Feb. 21. It was the fifth win in the past six league games for the Bulldogs, and it lifted Butler to 11-6 in the league race, one-half game ahead of Cleveland State and Detroit. Valparaiso (20-10) improved to 13-4 in the Horizon League and clinched its first league regular season title with a 66-62 victory in overtime against Loyola on Tuesday. The Crusaders, who boast a 12-2 record in the ARC, will host the second round (March 2) and semifinals (March 3) of the 2012 Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship. The title game (March 6) will be at the site of the highest remaining seed, following the semifinals. Butler and Valparaiso faced each other in the first game of the 2011-12 Horizon League schedule back on Dec. 3, and the Crusaders prevailed at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 77-71 in overtime.
Butler has finished first or second in the Horizon League regular season race for six consecutive years.
HOT FINISH: The Bulldogs enter the regular season finale with a five-game winning streak, the team's longest win streak of the season. Four of the five wins have come against Horizon League foes, including two on the road. Butler has held its last five foes to an average of 52.6 points per game, while posting a winning margin of 12.8 points.
Butler has had 10 win streaks of at least five games under Coach Brad Stevens.
TOURNAMENT WEEK: The 2012 Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at four campus sites. The top two teams in the final league standings get first round byes in the tournament, while the No. 3 seed hosts No. 10, No. 4 hosts No. 9, No. 5 hosts No. 8 and No. 6 hosts No. 7. The second round, matching first round winners, and the semifinals will be played at Valparaiso's Athletics and Recreation Center. The league tournament champion receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
HOME SHOW: Butler opened with a 13-3 run against UIC and stretched the margin to as many as 16 points in the first half, before settling for a 32-22 halftime lead. The Flames never got closer than 10 points in the final period. The Bulldogs, playing their final regular season home game, limited UIC to seven points in the first 12 minutes of the game and to eight points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Butler led by 27 points on two occasions late in the game, the last coming at 69-42 on a free throw by freshman Jackson Aldridge with just over a minute remaining. It was Butler's second consecutive victory at home by 20+ points, and it was the Bulldogs' 11th victory in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
SENIOR MOMENT: Butler's game against UIC was the final regular season contest in Hinkle Fieldhouse for seniors Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher, and the two team co-captains didn't disappoint the home crowd. Nored turned in one of his best overall performances with 12 points, seven rebounds, and game-highs of eight assists and four steals. Butcher, getting his second start of the season, posted his highest point total since Nov. 12, posting four points in eight minutes. Both players left the floor late in the game to a standing ovation. Nored and Butcher rank third on the Bulldogs' all-time list for senior class wins with a 105-32 record during their four seasons. The two have helped Butler to three Horizon League regular season championships, two league tournament titles and three consecutive trips to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, including back-to-back appearances in the national title game.
Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher have helped Butler to 57 Horizon League wins.
BALANCE SHEET: Butler had four different players score in double-figures against UIC, led by freshman Roosevelt Jones with 13 points. Ronald Nored finished with 12 points, while junior Andrew Smith and sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins each added 10. It was the third straight game that the Bulldogs had at least four players hit for double-figures in the same game.
Butler has had 10 different players record a double-figures scoring performance this season.
ASSISTED LIVING: Senior Ronald Nored, coming off a career-high 10 assists in Butler's BracketBuster victory over Indiana State, ran his string of games with eight or more assists to three in a row with his performance against UIC. He boosted his career total for assists to 460 and moved into third place on Butler's all-time assist chart, three ahead of Jeff Rogers (1994-98). Nored also moved into the No. 5 spot on Butler's single season assist chart with 156 assists this year. Earlier this season, Nored became just the second player in Butler basketball history (5-9 point guard Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002, is the other) to record 400 career points, 400 career rebounds and 400 career assists.
Ronald Nored has had career-highs for points (18), rebounds (11) and assists (10) since Butler last played Valparaiso.
DOUBLES RECORD: Freshman Roosevelt Jones, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds in Butler's BracketBuster victory over Indiana State, posted his second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against UIC. He had nine points and nine rebounds at halftime against the Flames. It was the fourth double-double of the season for the first-year player, and it gave Jones sole possession of the record for most double-doubles by a Butler freshman.
Roosevelt Jones has averaged 8.2 rebounds over Butler's last five games.
BOARD ROOM: The Bulldogs finished with a 33-27 rebounding advantage over UIC. It was the sixth time in the past seven games that Butler has out-rebounded its opponent. The Bulldogs, who lead the Horizon League in team rebounding margin (+3.5), are 14-4 this season when out-rebounding their opponent.
CHARITY WORK: Butler, mired in eighth place in the Horizon League in team free throw shooting, shot a season-best 90% from the charity stripe against UIC. The Bulldogs, led by Ronald Nored (6-6), hit 18 of 20 free throws in the game, including 11 of 12 in the final 20 minutes.
•The Bulldogs are tied for 23rd place on Butler's all-time list for single season victories with 18. A 19th win would move this year's team into a tie for 17th place on the all-time list.
•Ronald Nored has averaged 7.4 assists during Butler's current five-game winning streak.
•Ronald Nored stands second on Butler's all-time list for steals (199), eight behind career-leader Thomas Jackson (207 from 1998-2002).
•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (1.9).
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (5.2) and in assist/turnover ratio (1.9). Nored had 27 assists and 10 turnovers in Butler's last three games.
•Ronald Nored has averaged 6.2 rebounds during Butler's current win streak, second only to freshman Roosevelt Jones.
•Junior Andrew Smith has shot .585 from the field, .458 from beyond the three-point arc and averaged 12.2 points in Butler's 18 wins this season.
•Andrew Smith has scored in double-figures in four straight games and in six of Butler's last eight contests.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.559). He's fourth in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall has scored in double-figures in three of four games since returning from a concussion that sidelined him for two contests. Marshall was injured in a practice collision with teammate Ronald Nored prior to Butler's home game against Detroit.
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with nine points and eight rebounds against Valparaiso in December.
•Sophomore Erik Fromm has scored in double-figures in five of Butler's last eight games.
•Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has averaged 11.4 points and shot 47% (7-15) from three three-point arc during Butler's current five-game winning streak.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones has scored in double-figures in six of Butler's last eight games. He's averaged 11.8 points over that stretch.
•Roosevelt Jones leads the Bulldogs and ranks sixth in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.4).
•Freshman Kameron Woods had 10 points and 11 rebounds as a starter against Valparaiso in the first meeting this season.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into sixth place on the Horizon League's all-time list for league victories with 72. Todd Kowalczyk of Green Bay (2002-10) stands fifth on the list with 73 Horizon League wins.