A career-high 25 points from junior center Andrew Smith helped Butler knock off Wright State 70-52 in Tuesday night's opening round game of the Horizon League tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The No. 5 seed Bulldogs (19-13) advance to play No. 4 seed Milwaukee in the second round on Friday at 8:30 p.m. EST.
Butler went into halftime with a narrow 30-29 lead, but opened the second half on a 13-0 run to pull away from the Raiders (13-19).
Smith scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and pulled down seven rebounds in the win. The effort was Smith's third time this season scoring 20 or more points.
"The thing [Smith] does better than a lot of guys in our league and really around the country is he continues to move his feet on his post up," Wright State head coach Billy Donlon said. "His anticipation of what his man is going to do and where the ball is going to go has improved tremendously over his three years at Butler."
Freshman Kameron Woods paced Butler with a game-high nine rebounds and also recorded a career-high four blocks.
Senior guard Ronald Nored dished out a game-high six assists, surpassing Tim Bowen (1989-93) for second place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 474. The Homewood, Ala., native has recoreded 170 assists this season, just two shy of Butler's single season record set by Mike Green during the 2007-08 season.
The Bulldogs shot 53.7% from the field, their second best shooting performance of the season. Butler shot 56.5% in a Jan. 6 win at Wright State.
Butler will now turn its focus to the Milwaukee Panthers (20-12).
"It doesn't matter if you win this game by one or 18, but you move on to the next one" Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. "That's what is most important: the next one."
Butler and Milwaukee split the regular season series at 1-1 with each team winning at home. This time, however, neither team will enjoy a home court advantage.
The game, an 8:30 p.m. EST tipoff, will be played inside Valparaiso's Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC) and will be broadcast on the Horizon League Network at HorizonLeague.org. The winner will then play No. 1 seed and host Valparaiso on Saturday.