Butler Defeats Davidson 75-63

DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP)--Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 27 points and No. 21 Butler took advantage of an ailing, cold-shooting Stephen Curry to beat Davidson 75-63 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak.

Returning after missing the first game of his career with a sprained left ankle, Curry started 0-for-8 from the field. He scored 20 points, but it came on 6-of-23 shooting, including 2-of-13 from 3-point range.

Appearing a step slow working off screens and missing most of his shots short, the nation's leading scorer committed seven turnovers.

Curry got little help from his teammates and Butler (23-4) broke open a close game early in the second half to send Davidson (22-6) to its second straight loss.

Hayward had nine rebounds and Matt Howard scored 12 points for Butler, which avoided its first three-game losing streak in four years.

The teams' recent struggles took some of the luster off what was billed as the premier made-for-TV matchup of ESPN's BracketBusters series. Curry's woes prevented any second-half suspense.

Curry badly turned his ankle on a drive a week ago, and sat out Wednesday's loss to The Citadel, where his teammates managed just 46 points and shot 25 percent from the field.

Curry, who came in averaging 29 points a game, was held out of contact drills in practice Friday. But he emerged from the locker room 90 minutes before tipoff dressed and wearing a black and gray brace on his ankle. He looked fine in warmups, but when the game started he clearly wasn't 100 percent.

Shadowed most of the game by freshman Ronald Nored, Curry didn't score until his driving layup and ensuing three-point play with 6:27 left in the first half.

With Howard dominating the inside and Hayward drilling two 3-pointers, Butler built a 10-point lead before Curry scored four points near the end of the half, including a leaner at the buzzer, to get Davidson within 34-29.

Curry hit a 3 to start the second half, but then Hayward went to work, scoring 10 points in a 13-3 run. Curry picked up his fourth foul with 6:52 left and even missed two free throws.

Butler was 9-of-42 from 3-point range in consecutive losses to Loyola of Chicago and Wisconsin-Milwaukee which prevented it from clinching the Horizon League regular-season title. Behind Hayward's four 3s, the Bulldogs were 7-of-20 from long range and never gave Davidson a chance to come back in their 11th road win.

The young Bulldogs, who start three freshmen and a sophomore, forced 19 turnovers in the charged atmosphere of sold-out Belk Arena, where fans wore white T-shirts and waved white towels--but had little to cheer.

Andrew Lovedale added 15 points for Davidson, which has lost three straight at home following a 27-game winning streak. It leaves Curry and Davidson with the probable prospect of having to win the Southern Conference tournament to have a chance to repeat last year's NCAA run to the final eight.