Second Half Lifts No. 7 Louisville Past Butler
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith combined for 32 points and sparked a late second half run that lifted No. 7 Louisville to a 69-53 victory over Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 19. The win boosted the Cardinals to 3-0 on the season, while Butler fell to 1-2.
Butler held a 41-40 advantage with 12 minutes remaining, when Kuric and Smith ignited a decisive 16-4 run. Kuric scored 10 points in the six-minute run, while Smith added the other six to give the Cardinals a 56-45 advantage. Butler never got closer than nine points in the final six minutes.
"It gives you a good barometer of where we need to go from here," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "We had a lot of guys do a lot of good things for about 30 minutes, and then (Louisville) stepped up and made huge basketball plays. They made plays like guys who have been there before and done it before."
"That's a really good basketball team, and when you add (Peyton) Siva, it's probably an April basketball team," added Butler's coach.
The Bulldogs, led by junior Chase Stigall and sophomore Khyle Marshall (left), looked like a really good basketball team in the first 20 minutes. Stigall scored the first five points of the game and Butler maintained a lead through the first 10 minutes of the contest. The Cardinals did tie the game at 15-15 on a lay-up by Elisha Justice, but Stigall responded with his third three-pointer of the opening half to put Butler back on top.
Louisville closed the half with four straight points from Jared Swopshire to grab a slim, 29-28 lead. Stigall led all scorers in the first half with 11 points, while Marshall added 10.
The Cardinals stretched the lead to six, 34-28, early in the second half, but Marshall helped the Bulldogs battle back, and Butler eventually took the lead at 37-36 on a pair of free throws by Chrishawn Hopkins. Two free throws by senior Ronald Nored gave Butler its final lead at 41-40.
"There were just a couple of plays where they beat us to the ball. They got down on the floor quicker than we did," said Marshall of the Cardinals' closing run. "They got a few offensive rebounds and go a few second-chance points. There were a couple of defensive lapses, but Louisville made a lot of tough shots and made big plays."
Kuric finished with 17 points, including 12 in the second half, while Smith scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes. The Cardinals, who had won their first two games this season by an average of 27.5 points, were playing without starting point-guard Peyton Siva, who was sidelined by a sprained ankle.
Marshall led all scorers with a career-high 20 points, and he topped the Bulldogs with six rebounds. Stigall added 11 points. Butler season scoring leaders Andrew Smith and Hopkins combined for just eight points.
The Bulldogs will return to Hoosier Invitational play on Monday, Nov. 21 with a home game against Savannah State at 7 p.m. Butler also will host Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Nov. 23 in the five-team event, before visiting Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 27, to conclude the tournament.