Butler returns to Horizon League play this week with a pair of home
games against two of the top three teams in the league
standings. First up is a test against Green Bay on Thursday,
Dec. 29. That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 7 p.m.
(ET) and will be televised on WNDY-TV. Green Bay, one of
three teams boasting a 2-0 Horizon League record, closed its
pre-Christmas schedule with back-to-back victories over Michigan
Tech and Idaho. Those two wins lifted the Phoenix to 6-6 on
the season and 4-2 in December. Butler is returning to action
following a 71-66, pre-Christmas victory at Stanford. It was
Butler’s second win in three games and lifted the Bulldogs to
6-7 on the season. Butler dropped its lone pre-Christmas
Horizon League game to Valparaiso, 77-71 in overtime, in early
December. Following the Green Bay game, the Bulldogs will
close out the week with a 2 p.m. (ET) home contest against
Milwaukee (9-4, 2-0 HL) on Saturday, Dec. 31. Green Bay and
Milwaukee share the league’s top spot with Cleveland
Butler has won or shared the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
HOME WORK: Butler is returning to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time since Dec. 7, and the Bulldogs are looking to snap a two-game, homecourt losing streak for the first time under head coach Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs, who stand 4-3 at home this season, dropped decisions to Valparaiso and #8 Xavier in their last two home contests. Butler is 60-8 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under Stevens.
Butler has won 34 of 37 Horizon League regular season games at Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
CHALLENGING SLATE: Butler’s game at Stanford closed out a five-game stretch that featured four opponents who were being mentioned in the national polls. The Bulldogs in succession faced Xavier, Ball State, Purdue, Gonzaga and Stanford. Xavier was ranked #8 at the time, while Purdue, Gonzaga and Stanford each were receiving votes in the national polls. Butler’s pre-league schedule also included Louisville and unbeaten Indiana, both ranked in the “Top 15” in this week’s national polls.
Butler’s last seven Division I opponents boast a current combined 64-19 record.
TREE TRIMMING: Christmas came early for the Bulldogs in the form of a vastly-improved shooting performance in California. Butler turned in its second-best shooting performance of the year (.464) and handed Stanford its first homecourt loss of the season, 71-66. The 71 points scored by Butler were the second-most allowed by the Cardinal this season. The Bulldogs trailed 31-26 at halftime, but out-scored the home team, 45-35, in the final 20 minutes. Freshman Jackson Aldridge broke a 50-50 tie with a steal and a lay-up with seven minutes remaining, and senior Ronald Nored helped Butler hold the lead by hitting five of six free throws in the final 0:35. Stanford had beaten its first seven home opponents this season by an average of 21.7 points.
WESTERN SPLIT: Butler’s victory at Stanford gave the Bulldogs a split of their two-game trip to the West Coast. The Bulldogs opened the trip with a 71-55 setback at Gonzaga in a game that was closer than the final margin. Butler fell behind by 10 points at halftime, but closed the gap to six points on three occasions in the second half, the last coming at 51-45 with just under 10 minutes remaining. Gonzaga held off the comeback attempt and finished the game on a 12-3 run for the final margin.
BACKCOURT PUNCH: Butler’s victory at Stanford featured a pair of career-best scoring performances out of the Bulldogs’ backcourt. Senior Ronald Nored (above right), known more for handing out assists and his work at the defensive end of the floor, led the Bulldogs with a career-high 18 points, including 16 in the final 20 minutes. The 6-0 guard from Alabama tallied eight points in the final three-and-a-half minutes to help hold off any comeback attempts by the Cardinal. And freshman Jackson Aldridge (right) came off the bench with a career-high 15 points, including 11 in the second half, to help key the victory. His steal, lay-up and free throw gave Butler the lead for good with seven minutes remaining. Nored connected on a career-high three three-point field goals in the game, while Aldridge matched his career-high with a pair of three-pointers.
ROTATION: Forward Erik Fromm was given his first
collegiate start at Gonzaga, and he wound up leading the Bulldogs
in scoring with a career-high 16 points. He became the ninth
different Butler player to lead or share the team lead in scoring
this season. Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has led the Bulldogs
outright in three games this year, while junior Andrew Smith has
topped the team alone twice and shared the team scoring lead
once. Senior Ronald Nored and sophomore Khyle Marshall have
led the Bulldogs twice, while freshman Andrew Smeathers has
finished on top once. Junior Chase Stigall and freshman
Roosevelt Jones shared Butler’s scoring lead against #8
Xavier, while freshman Kameron Woods shared the team lead with
Smith against Purdue.
Butler has had 10 different players score in double-figures in a game this season.
BOARD ROOM: Freshman Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in rebounding in both games on the recent West Coast trip. The 6-4 forward grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in Butler’s win at Stanford, and he pulled down seven rebounds to share the team lead with Andrew Smith at Gonzaga. Jones had a team-high four offensive rebounds at Stanford and three offensive boards at Gonzaga. He currently leads the Bulldogs with 37 offensive rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGE: Butler head coach Brad Stevens unveiled his fifth different starting lineup in the past five games with the quintet of Andrew Smith, Eric Fromm, Roosevelt Jones, Ronald Nored and Chase Stigall taking the floor for the start of the game at Stanford. The Bulldogs have used seven different starting units through this year’s first 13 games. Only Nored has started all 13 games this season.
ASSIST CLIMB: Ronald Nored, who took over the No. 5 spot on Butler’s all-time assist chart with three assists against Purdue, boosted his career total with 10 assists on Butler’s two-game West Coast swing. Nored had a team-high five assists at both Gonzaga and Stanford. He currently enters this week’s action with 368 career assists.
Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.9).
STEAL WILL: Ronald Nored, who had a pair of steals at Stanford, sits in fourth place on Butler’s all-time list for steals with 170 career thefts. Darren Fowlkes stands third on the all-time list with 176 steals from 1985-89. Butler’s all-time record for steals in 207, set by Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002.
Ronald Nored is second among active players in the Horizon League in career steals.
•Butler’s 10 three-point field goals at Stanford were the most against a Division I opponent since last year’s NCAA Tournament, when the Bulldogs hit 12 three-pointers in a third-round victory over #4 Pittsburgh.
•Senior Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.8).
•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (2.2). Nored has had three or more steals in six of Butler’s 13 games this season.
•Ronald Nored is the active career leader in assists in the Horizon League with 368.
•Junior Andrew Smith ranks 10th in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.2). Smith has led the Bulldogs in rebounding a team-high six times.
•Andrew Smith has averaged 12.3 points in Butler’s five wins this season, but just 7.0 points in the Bulldogs’ six losses. Butler is 6-1 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith hit all five of his field goal attempts and scored 12 points against Green Bay at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.
•Junior Chase Stigall, who ranks third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.2), has hit at least one three-pointer in 12 consecutive games.
•Chase Stigall has been Butler’s leading scorer at home this season. The 6-3 guard has averaged 10.9 points in the Bulldogs’ seven home contests.
•Chase Stigall matched his career-high with four assists at Stanford.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.559). He ranks fifth in the Horizon League.
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge ranks third in the Horizon League in free throw shooting. He’s connected on his last 11 free throw attempts.
•Jackson Aldridge was named league Player of the Week by the web site College Sports Madness following his performance against Stanford.
•Freshman Kameron Woods ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.1). He had two blocked shots at Stanford.
•Green Bay and Butler are the top two teams in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds. Green Bay (14.2) leads the league, while Butler (14.0) ranks second.
•Butler boasts three of the top eight players in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds. Roosevelt Jones stands third (2.8), Andrew Smith ranks fourth (2.7) and Kameron Woods is eighth (2.3).
•Butler had 31 assists on 50 field goals (62%) on the two-game trip to the West Coast. The Bulldogs stand second in the league in assist percentage (.581) on the season.
•Butler has trailed at halftime in its last 10 games against Division I opponents.