Butler Faces Second Straight League-Leader

Butler at Wright State
Friday, January 6, 7 p.m. (ET)
Nutter Center - Dayton, Ohio
Game NotesAudio

TOP SHOT:  For the second straight game, Butler will square off against a team sitting atop the Horizon League standings.  The Bulldogs will begin their first league road trip at league-leading Wright State on Friday, Jan. 6.  The 7 p.m. game at the Nutter Center will be televised on ESPNU.  Wright State (8-8) is riding a four-game winning streak and is tied for first place with a 3-1 league record.  The Raiders have won three straight league contests, including a 74-70 overtime decision at UIC on Saturday (Dec. 31).  Butler (8-7, 2-1 HL) is coming off a sweep of two teams that previously had not lost in league play.  The Bulldogs handed Green Bay its first league setback, 53-49, and then beat league-leading Milwaukee, 54-50, less than 48 hours later.  The two wins lifted Butler above the .500 mark for the first time since early December.  The game at Wright State  will be the first of a two-game league road swing for the Bulldogs.  Butler will finish the trip at Detroit with a 4 p.m. (ET) contest on Sunday, Jan. 8.              

Butler has won three consecutive games for the first time this season.

YEAR REVIEW:  Butler began 2011 with a victory over Valparaiso on Jan. 1 and ended the year with a win over Milwaukee on Dec. 31.  The bookend wins helped the Bulldogs to a 27-13 record during the calendar year.  Butler wrapped up a share of its fifth straight Horizon League regular season title, captured a second straight league tournament crown, won the NCAA Southeast Region and posted a second consecutive national runner-up finish in 2011.    

COMEBACK TRAIL:  Butler had to come from behind in the second half in both of its Horizon League wins last week.  The Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, had to overcome a five-point deficit in the second half in their victory over Green Bay.  Butler then erased a 10-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of its win over Milwaukee.  The Bulldogs have overcome a double-digit deficit in three of their last four wins and in four of eight victories this season.

Butler has trailed at halftime in 11 of 15 games this season.  

CLOSE CALLS:  Butler’s last four wins have come by an average margin of 3.8 points.  The Bulldogs’ two Horizon League wins each were decided in the final minute of play.  

CLOSING STATEMENT:  Butler used a 7-1 scoring run in the final minute-and-a-half to hand visiting Milwaukee its first Horizon League setback.  The Bulldogs, who trailed for nearly the entire second half, tied the game at 49-49 on a short jumper by junior Andrew Smith with 1:22 remaining.  Butler then took the lead for good at 52-49 on a three-point field goal by junior Chase Stigall with 0:42 left.  Milwaukee cut the margin to two, 52-50, on a free throw by James Haarsma 16 seconds later, and the Panthers had a chance to tie the game when Haarsma was fouled with 0:03 remaining.  But Haarsma missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Butler’s Kameron Woods was fouled on the rebound.  Woods sank both free throws with under a second remaining for the final margin
   
BIG SHOTS:  Butler made just seven total three-point field goals in its back-to-back wins over Green Bay and Milwaukee, but two of them proved to be decisive.  Junior Chase Stigall, who leads the Bulldogs in three-pointers, nailed his only three-point field goal of the weekend in the final minute of the Milwaukee game to lift the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind win.  And freshman Kameron Woods connected on his lone three-pointer of the week with 20 seconds remaining against Green Bay to seal the victory.  Butler his just three of 16 attempts from beyond the three-point arc against Green Bay and just four of 17 long-range shots against Milwaukee.

BOUNCE BACK:  Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins (right), mired in a six-game slump, provided the biggest lift for the Bulldogs with a strong all-around performance against Milwaukee.  Hopkins, who had scored just 11 points in Butler’s previous six games, came off the bench and led the Bulldogs with 12 points in 28 minutes against the Panthers.  He also shared the team lead in rebounding with a career-high seven boards, led the Bulldogs in assists with a career-best five and topped the squad with a career-high four steals.  The 6-1 guard helped the Bulldogs erase a nine-point deficit in the first half by accounting for every point in a 12-0 Butler run!  He scored eight points in the stretch and had assists on the other two baskets.  Hopkins had scored in double-figures in five of Butler’s first seven games this season, and he was Butler’s leading scorer through the first nine contests of 2011-12.

NEXT MAN:  Chrishawn Hopkins became the eighth different player to lead Butler in scoring in the past seven games.  Senior Ronald Nored and junior Andrew Smith shared the team scoring lead against Green Bay, while Nored led by himself at Stanford.  Sophomore Erik Fromm, in his first collegiate start, was the team leader at Gonzaga, while Smith and freshman Kameron Woods shared the Butler lead against Purdue.  Sophomore Khyle Marshall topped Butler at Ball State, while junior Chase Stigall and freshman Roosevelt Jones shared the scoring lead against Xavier.  Butler has had nine different players lead the team or share the team lead in scoring in a game this season.

Butler has had 10 different players score in double-figures in a game this season.

DIALING IN:  Junior Andrew Smith, who scored 11 points against Milwaukee, has hit 14 of 19 (.737) field goal attempts in Butler’s last three games.  Over the past five outings, the 6-11 center has connected on 19 of 27 (.704) 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 and four of six against Milwaukee.  In the eight games prior to Butler’s victory over Purdue, Smith had shot just 34% (19-56) from the floor.

Andrew Smith ranked second in the Horizon League in FG% (.593) a year ago.  

LEAD ROLE: Senior Ronald Nored has led the Bulldogs in scoring during the team’s current three-game winning streak.  The 6-0 guard has shot .478 (11-23) from the field, including .500 (4-8) from beyond the three-point arc, and averaged 12.7 points over the past three contests.  He led the Bulldogs with a career-high 18 points at Stanford and then shared the team lead with 13 points against Green Bay.  He had seven points in Butler’s victory over Milwaukee.  Nored has also topped the team in assists (11) and steals (6) over the past three outings.

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 16 assists in Butler’s last four games.  Nored had a team-high five assists at both Gonzaga and Stanford and a team-high four assists against Green Bay.  He enters this week’s action with 374 career assists.

Ronald Nored is the Horizon League’s active leader in career assists.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler had a 45-15 advantage in bench scoring in its two Horizon League games last week.  The Bulldogs’ bench out-scored Green Bay’s reserves, 20-5, and then compiled a 25-10 advantage over Milwaukee.

•Butler has held its last three opponents to .367 (55-150) field goal shooting, including just .255 (14-55) from beyond the three-point arc.  Milwaukee shot 34% (16-47) for the game and 24% (6-25) from 3-point range.

•Senior Ronald Nored, who had three steals against Milwaukee, needs two thefts to tie Darren Fowlkes (1985-89) for third place on Butler’s all-time list for steals.

•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (2.2).  Nored has had three or more steals in seven games this season.

•Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in assists (4.7).  He ranks third in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.7).

•Ronald Nored had a career-high eight assists against Wright State at Hinkle Fieldhouse as a sophomore.

•Junior Andrew Smith has scored in double-figures in three consecutive games and in four of the past five outings.  He leads the Bulldogs with nine twin-digit efforts.

•Andrew Smith has averaged 12.3 points in Butler’s seven wins this season, but just 7.0 points in the Bulldogs’ seven losses.  Butler is 8-1 when Smith scores in double-figures.

•Andrew Smith had a game-high eight rebounds in Butler’s loss at the Nutter Center last year.

•Junior Chase Stigall, who’s tied for fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (1.9), has hit a three-pointer in 13 of 15 games this season.

•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.550).  He ranks third in the Horizon League.

•Khyle Marshall is Butler’s leading scorer (10.8) in five road games this season.

•Freshman Kameron Woods ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.1).  He’s had five blocked shots in Butler’s last three games.

•Kameron Woods shared Butler’s rebounding lead against Milwaukee with seven.

•Freshman Roosevelt Jones leads the Bulldogs and ranks ninth in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.0).

•Butler boasts three of the top 11 players in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds.  Roosevelt Jones is third (3.0), Andrew Smith ranks fourth (2.7) and Kameron Woods is tied for ninth (2.2).

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens is tied with Rob Jeter of Milwaukee for ninth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (64).  Both trail former Butler coach Todd Lickliter in eighth place by a single league win.  Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131.