Butler's 2012 senior class went out in style with a commanding 69-44 win over UIC at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday. Playing in their last regular season home game, seniors Ronald Nored (right) and Garrett Butcher combined for 16 points in the Bulldogs' fifth straight victory.
With Butcher starting in place of sophomore forward Erik Fromm, Butler (18-12, 11-6) wasted no time setting the tone, jumping out to a 23-7 lead.
The Bulldogs limited UIC (8-19, 3-13) to 1-of-10 shooting to start the game and took a 32-22 lead into the locker room.
Freshman forward Roosevelt Jones (below left) scored nine points and pulled down nine rebounds in the first half. Jones finished with 13 points and 10 boards, making him the first Bulldog to record four double-doubles as a freshman.
Butler continued its strong play into the second half as sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins got the Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd to its feet with a behind the back pass that resulted in a dunk by sophomore forward Khyle Marshall. Hopkins finished with 10 points, his third consecutive game in double figures.
While Hopkins and Jones had strong performances, the spotlight was on seniors Butcher and Nored.
With 3:05 remaining Butcher drained a 17-foot jump shot to give the Bulldogs a 65-40 lead. Less than 30 seconds later, Nored stole the ball from UIC freshman guard Greg Travis and raced past the Flames' defense for a lay-up to give Butler its largest lead of the game (27).
Following the play, Butler head coach Brad Stevens simultaneously subbed Butcher and Nored out of the game, allowing the Hinkle Fieldhouse crowd a chance to recognize the two seniors. Nearly all of the 6,529 fans in attendance gave the duo a standing ovation.
Butcher and Nored have contributed to 105 Butler wins, third most by any senior class in Butler men's basketball history. The two have also played a part in three Horizon League championships and two appearances in the national championship game.
"The best Butler Bulldogs leave a legacy that is not just what they do on the court," Stevens said. "There are guys that you can only remember what they did on the court. These guys (Butcher and Nored) will leave a lasting legacy."
Nored dished out eight assists in the victory, moving him into third place on Butler's all-time assists chart with 460. The Homewood, Ala., native has the second most steals (195) in Butler men's basketball history. Nored is one of just two players in Butler history to record 400 career points, 400 career rebounds and 400 career assists.
"Ron, every day, raises the energy level in the room," Stevens said. "We have been fortunate enough to have been around great leaders, but there is no one that's above him. He's as good as they come."
Butcher, who has battled injuries throughout his career, scored a career-high nine points against Ball State as a freshman. Following Tuesday's win, Stevens heralded him for his strong play in the 2011 Horizon League championship game against Milwaukee and 2011 NCAA tournament win over Old Dominion in which he posted six points and six rebounds.
"He [Butcher] has been the ultimate teammate and ultimate leader," Stevens said. "Those two banners hanging up there don't happen without him."
Picking up a win on Senior Night, the Bulldogs moved a half-game ahead of Cleveland State for the No. 2 spot in the Horizon League standings.
Butler will look to continue its win streak when it visits league-leading Valparaiso on Friday. The game is set to tip at 7:00 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPNU.
(Photos by Zach Bollinger)