HOLIDAY WRAP: Butler will close out its four-game homestand and play its final home contest in the Hoosier Invitational when its hosts Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The pre-Thanksgiving game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will tip at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on WNDY-TV. The Bulldogs won their second straight Hoosier Invitational game with a 57-42 victory over Savannah State on Monday (Nov. 21). Butler trailed at halftime in that contest, but pulled away behind a strong defensive effort in the final 20 minutes. The 15-point win evened Butler's record on the season (2-2) and boosted the Bulldogs to 2-1 at home. Gardner-Webb (2-3) is coming off a 73-49 Hoosier Invitational loss at Indiana on Monday. Former Perry Meridian High School player Max Landis led the Runnin' Bulldogs with 18 points in that game. Following a final Hoosier Invitational game at Indiana on Sunday (Nov. 27), Butler will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse to host Oakland City on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Butler is 58-6 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
HOME TURF: Butler is playing seven of its first nine games this season at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs, who won their final four home games last season, had a five-game homecourt winning streak snapped by No. 7 Louisville on Nov. 19. Butler has won 29 of its last 32 home contests.
Butler has won 16 of 19 non-league games at home over the past three years.
HOOSIER INVITATIONAL: The contest with Gardner-Webb is Butler's third game in the five-team Hoosier Invitational. The Bulldogs began the event with a victory at home over Chattanooga, 57-46, on Nov. 15, before picking up the 15-point win over Savannah State on Monday. Butler will finish the early season event at unbeaten Indiana (5-0) on Sunday, Nov. 27.
RATINGS GAME: Butler's game against No. 7 Louisville last Saturday was the first of three "Top 25" contests for the Bulldogs on the pre-Christmas slate. The Bulldogs will host No. 12 Xavier on Wednesday, Dec. 7, and then visit No. 19 Gonzaga on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Butler foes Indiana and Cleveland State also have been receiving votes in the national polls. The Bulldogs are 9-11 against teams ranked in the "Top 25" during the tenure of coach Brad Stevens.
STRONG COMEBACK: Butler trailed the entire first half against Savannah State, and the Bulldogs didn't take their first lead in the game until 16:39 remained in the second half. Freshman Jackson Aldridge hit a jump shot that gave the Bulldogs a 24-23 lead and ignited a decisive 10-0 Butler run. The Bulldogs stretched their advantage to double-figures, 36-26, on a tip-in by freshman Roosevelt Jones with just under 10 minutes remaining and then built the lead to as many as 19 points in the closing moments of the game.
Butler hit 10 of 17 (.588) shots in the second half against Savannah State.
FIRST DEFENSE: Butler's second half comeback against Savannah State was fueled by a strong effort at the defensive end of the court. The Bulldogs, behind a 1-3-1 defensive set, held Savannah State to just six points in the first 14 minutes of the final period, while pulling away to a 40-26 advantage. The visiting Tigers hit just three of their first 13 shots in the second half and didn't score their tenth point of the period until just over five minutes remained. The Bulldogs limited Savannah State to 33% shooting for the second half and 36.6% shooting for the game, while forcing the Tigers into 23 turnovers.
Butler has held both Hoosier Invitational opponents under 50 points.
FRESH SPARK: Butler's strong second half performance against Savannah State featured career efforts by a pair of newcomers. Freshmen Jackson Aldridge and Roosevelt Jones combined for 16 points after intermission, and both players contributed to Butler's strong defensive stand. Aldridge hit one of two shots from the floor and six of nine from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes, while Jones connected on all four of his second half shot attempts. Both players finished with a career-high 10 points, and both added two steals to Butler's season-high total of 12 thefts.
BALANCING ACT: The Bulldogs had four players score in double-figures against Savannah State, despite scoring just 57 total points in the game. Junior Andrew Smith led the squad with 11 points, while junior Chase Stigall and freshmen Jackson Aldridge and Roosevelt Jones each added 10. It was the first time the Bulldogs had four players score 10 or more points in the same game since Butler's 76-68 victory over Cleveland State in the semifinals of the 2011 Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship.
Andrew Smith leads the Bulldogs with 17 career double-figures scoring performances.
DOUBLING UP: Junior Chase Stigall (right), one of two returning Butler players who were in the Bulldogs' starting lineup at the 2011 NCAA national championship game, posted a second consecutive double-figures scoring performance for the first time in his collegiate career. Stigall's 10-point performance against Savannah State came two days after he matched his career-high with 11 points against No. 7 Louisville. The 6-3 guard has hit five three-point field goal in Butler's last two outings. Stigall had two double-figures scoring performances all of last season.
HELPING HAND: Senior Ronald Nored, led all players on both teams with five assists against Savannah State. It was his third straight game this season with at least five assists, and it boosted him into sixth place on Butler's all-time assist chart. He moved ahead of both Avery Sheets on the Bulldogs' all-time list, and he's now 32 assists shy of a "Top 5" spot on Butler's career assist chart.
Butler All-Time Assist Chart
540 Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002
471 Tim Bowen, 1989-93
457 Jeff Rogers, 1994-98
411 Darrin Fitzgerald, 1983-87
357 Shelvin Mack, 2008-11
325 Ronald Nored, 2008-
323 Avery Sheets, 2002-06
316 Mike Green, 2006-08
316 A. J. Graves, 2004-08
310 Mike Monserez, 2001-04
MAN OF STEAL: Senior co-captain Ronald Nored posted his fourth straight game of three or more steals with a game-high four thefts against Savannah State. The former Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year also led the Bulldogs with three steals against Evansville, four against Chattanooga and three against Louisville. The four steals against Chattanooga and Savannah State matched the second-highest total of his Butler career, trailing only his five steals performances against Syracuse in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and against Valparaiso in 2009. Nored, who's been named to the Horizon League All-Defensive Team for two consecutive years, has topped the Bulldogs in steals for two straight seasons, and he's heading into the Gardner-Webb game with 155 career thefts. Butler's all-time record is 207 steals, set by Thomas Jackson, 1998-02.
Ronald Nored has had three or more steals in 25 career games at Butler.
NEW GROUP: The Bulldogs have just two seniors, Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher, on this year's squad and just five players who boast more than one season of experience. Gone from last year's 28-10 team, which won the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the national title game for a second straight year, are starters Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack and Shawn Vanzant, top reserve Zach Hahn and four-year letterwinners Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin. Howard finished his career as Butler's third all-time leading scorer and rebounder, while Mack was taken by the Washington Wizards in the second round of the NBA Draft. The six departures accounted for 64% of Butler's scoring and 48% of the squad's rebounding a year ago.
COACHING LIST: Butler head coach Brad Stevens, who picked up his 119th career win against Savannah State, owns the top spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 4 Years. The Bulldogs' coach completed last season with a four-year record of 117-25, topping the previous four-year mark of 107-22 set by Everett Case of North Carolina State (1947-50). Stevens also holds the NCAA three-year record with 89 victories, and he's second on the two-year list (56).
•Butler's Ronald Nored is one of 30 candidates nominated for the 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented to one senior who has shown notable achievement in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition. Former teammate Matt Howard was one of 10 finalists for the award a year ago.
•Ronald Nored has been named to the 25-player Lou Henson Preseason All-America Team. The CollegeInsider.com team honors the top Mid-Major players in the nation. Nored joined Detroit's Ray McCallum as the lone Horizon League players selected to this year's preseason squad. Butler's Matt Howard was named the Lou Henson Player of the Year last season.
•Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in both assists (5.3) and steals (3.5) through games of Nov. 21.
•Ronald Nored has hit eight of his last 10 free throw attempts and he's tied with Chrishawn Hopkins for the team lead in free throw shooting (.750).
•Junior Andrew Smith, who had just one three-point field goal attempt all of last year, has hit four of eight long-range shots in Butler's first four games this season. He leads the Bulldogs and he's tied for fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting.
•Andrew Smith was the lone Butler player named to the preseason All-Horizon League team. The 6-11 Butler center earned second team All-League recognition on the preseason squad chosen by league coaches, media an sports information directors.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall had a career-high 20 points against No. 7 Louisville. He became the third Butler player to score 20 points in a game this season, following Chrishawn Hopkins (22 vs. Evansville) and Andrew Smith (21 vs. Evansville).
•Freshmen Kameron Woods and Roosevelt Jones shared Butler's rebounding lead against Savannah State with six rebounds apiece. The six caroms were a career-high for Jones.
•Roosevelt Jones played a career-high 22 minutes against Savannah State, and he finished with career-highs for points (10), field goals (5), field goal attempts (7), free throw attempts (3) and rebounds (6).
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge hit six of his final seven free throw attempts against Savannah State. He was six of nine for the game, his first collegiate free throw attempts.
•Brothers Emerson and Elliott Kampen entered the Savannah State game together, late in the second half. It was the first time the two siblings played together in a collegiate game. The two brothers formerly played as teammates at Yorktown High School.
•The Bulldogs are 50-4 in regular season play under coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-point field goals in a game.
•Butler is one of just three NCAA Division I schools to win at least 25 games in each of the last five seasons. The other two are Kansas and BYU.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens landed three recruits on the first day of the NCAA's fall signing period. Joining the Bulldogs' 2012-13 freshman class were 6-5 Kellen Dunham of Pendleton Heights, 6-3 Devontae Morgan of Tampa, Fla., and 5-11 Chris Harrison-Docks of Okemos, Mich. Dunham averaged 23.6 points and shot 43% from three-point range as a junior at Pendleton Heights High School, while Morgan averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds during his junior season at Tampa Prep. Harrison-Docks averaged 23.0 points at Okemos High School.
(Photos by John Fetcho, Zach Bollinger)