Just three games into the Horizon League season, only two teams
remain unbeaten, and Butler will host one of them on Saturday, Dec.
31. The Bulldogs will face league-leading Milwaukee in Hinkle
Fieldhouse at 2 p.m. (ET) on the Horizon League Network Game of the
Week. Milwaukee, 10-4 overall, has swept its first three
league contests, including a 57-55 decision at previously-unbeaten
Valparaiso on Thursday (Dec. 29). Guard Kaylon Williams hit a
three-point field goal with just under a minute to play to lead the
Panthers to that victory at Valparaiso. Milwaukee swept the
regular season series with Butler a year ago, including an overtime
win at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and shared the season title with the
Bulldogs and Cleveland State. Butler bounced back to defeat
the Panthers in the championship game of the Horizon League
tournament in Milwaukee. The Bulldogs earned their first
league victory with a hard-fought, 53-49, decision over
previously-unbeaten Green Bay on Thursday. That win lifted
Butler to .500 (7-7, 1-1 HL) for the first time since early
The last 12 Horizon League regular season titles have included either Butler or Milwaukee (or both).
HOME RULE: Butler snapped a two-game homecourt losing streak (the first under head coach Brad Stevens) and improved to 5-3 in Hinkle Fieldhouse with the victory over Green Bay. The Bulldogs had dropped decisions at home to Valparaiso in overtime and #8 Xavier prior to Christmas. Since Stevens took over as head coach, Butler is 61-8 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs have won 35 of 38 Horizon League regular season home games
Butler is 157-22 at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1999-2000.
WILD START: Butler’s win over Green Bay was one of three Horizon League games decided by four points or less on Thursday night (Dec. 29). Milwaukee picked up a two-point win at Valparaiso and UIC defeated Detroit, 63-59. Nine of the league’s first 13 games have been decided by five points or less or in overtime. Milwaukee and Cleveland State are the league’s lone unbeaten teams.
Seven of 13 Horizon League games have been decided in the final possession.
HOLIDAY GRIND: Butler shot just 31% (18-58), including just 18.8% (3-16) from the three-point arc, and was out-scored at the free throw line against Green Bay. But the Bulldogs found a way to squeak out a four-point win in the game. The key was a staunch defensive effort and hitting some clutch shots down the stretch. Butler limited Green Bay to just 15 field goals on 27.8%, including just 17.6% (3-17) from three-point rang. The Bulldogs held their opponent to just nine points in the final nine minutes of the contest. Butler trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and by four points, 25-21, at halftime. The Bulldogs grabbed their first lead of the second half at 38-37 on a three-point field goal by freshman Andrew Smeathers with 11:04 remaining.
STRETCH PERFORMANCE: Butler’s bid against Green Bay was aided by the play off the bench of freshman Kameron Woods. The 6-8 forward hit the biggest shot of his young career when he nailed a three-point field goal with 0:20 remaining as the shot clock was winding down. The basket gave the Bulldogs a 52-47 lead and paved the way for the Butler win. Woods followed his key basket by blocking the lay-up attempt of Green Bay’s Steve Baker with 10 seconds left, and then he stole a final pass attempt by the Phoenix to end the game. The first-year Butler player finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals in 19 minutes of action.
Kameron Woods has averaged 9.8 points and 9.0 rebounds over Butler’s last four home games.
ROLE REVERSAL: Senior Ronald Nored (right), known for handing out assists and his work at the defensive end of the floor, has topped the Bulldogs in scoring in back-to-back games for the first time in his Butler career. He led the Bulldogs with a career-high 18 points, including 16 in the final 20 minutes, in Butler’s win at Stanford. The 6-0 guard from Alabama then shared Butler’s scoring lead with 13 points, including eight in the second half, against Green Bay. The 31 points Nored scored against Stanford and Green Bay is the highest two-game total of his collegiate career. Nored didn’t ignore his primary duties, leading the Bulldogs with five assists at Stanford and four against Green Bay and sparking Butler’s defense in both victories.
ON TARGET: Junior Andrew Smith, who shared Butler’s scoring lead against Green Bay with 13 points, has hit 10 of 13 (.769) field goal attempts in Butler’s last two games. Over the past four outings, the 6-11 center has connected on 15 of 21 (.714) shots. Smith connected on five of seven field goal attempts in the Bulldogs’ win at Stanford, and then he hit five of six against Green Bay. In the eight games prior to Butler’s victory over Purdue, Smith had shot just 34% (19-56) from the floor. A year ago, Smith ranked second in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.593).
CLEAN GLASS: Freshman Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in rebounding for a third consecutive game with a career-high 12 caroms against Green Bay. The 6-4 forward pulled down five offensive rebounds and seven defensive boards against the Phoenix. Jones 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. He’s led Butler in rebounding in four of the past six games and in five total games on the season. He currently leads the Bulldogs with 42 offensive rebounds.
ROTATING LEADERS: Forward Erik Fromm, who led the Bulldogs in scoring at Gonzaga with a career-high 16 points, became the ninth different Butler player to lead or share the team lead in scoring this season. Junior Andrew Smith has topped the team twice and shared the team lead in scoring twice, while sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has led the Bulldogs outright in three games this year. Senior Ronald Nored has led the team twice and shared the lead once, while sophomore Khyle Marshall has led the Bulldogs twice. 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 lead with Smith against Purdue.
Butler has had 10 different players score in double-figures in a game 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, has recorded 14 assists in Butler’s last three games. Nored had a team-high five assists at both Gonzaga and Stanford and a team-high four assists against Green Bay. He currently enters this weekend’s action with 372 career assists.
Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.9).
•Senior Ronald Nored had seven rebounds against Green Bay, one off his career-high set originally against Milwaukee in March of 2010. Nored also had eight rebounds against Cleveland State and UIC last season.
•Ronald Nored played a career-high 41 minutes in Butler’s overtime loss to Milwaukee last January. He currently leads the Bulldogs in minutes played (30.1).
•Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.7).
•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (2.1). Nored has had three or more steals in six games this season.
•Ronald Nored is the active career leader in assists in the Horizon League with 372.
•Junior Andrew Smith is Butler’s leading scorer in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season (10.0). Smith has hit for double-figures in five of Butler’s eight home games.
•Andrew Smith has averaged 12.4 points in Butler’s seven wins this season, but just 7.0 points in the Bulldogs’ seven losses. Butler is 7-1 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith posted his third career double-figures rebounding performance in last year’s Horizon League Championship title game against Milwaukee. He led all players with 10 rebounds in the win.
•Junior Chase Stigall, who’s tied for fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.0), had a streak of 12 consecutive games with a three-point field goal snapped against Green Bay.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.552). He ranks fourth in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall scored 14 points against Milwaukee at Hinkle Fieldhouse a year ago. It was the top homecourt scoring performance of his freshman season.
•Freshman Kameron Woods ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.2). He’s had four blocked shots in Butler’s last two games.
•Kameron Woods matched his career-highs with three free throws made and two steals against Green Bay.
•Freshman Andrew Smeathers grabbed a career-high five rebounds in a career-high 12 minutes against Green Bay.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones has taken over the team lead and moved into ninth place in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.3).
•Roosevelt Jones matched his career-high with two blocked shots against Green Bay.
•Butler boasts three of the top eight players in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds. Roosevelt Jones is tied for second (3.2), Andrew Smith ranks fourth (2.7) and Kameron Woods is eighth (2.3).
•Butler has trailed at halftime in its last 11 games against Division I opponents.