Butler will close out its initial Horizon League road trip against
a talented Detroit team at Calihan Hall on Sunday, Jan. 8.
The 4 p.m. contest will be broadcast on the internet on
ESPN3. Detroit features three preseason All-Horizon League
players, and boasts two of the league’s top five
scorers. Senior Chase Simon (15.3), sophomore Ray McCallum
(15.0) and senior Eli Holman (12.7) each were named first team on
the preseason All-League squad, and McCallum was chosen as the
league’s preseason Player of the Year. Simon and
McCallum both stand among the league scoring leaders. The
Titans (7-10, 1-4 HL) dropped a 73-71 decision at home to
Valparaiso on Friday (Jan. 6) on a lay-up at the buzzer the
Crusaders’ Eric Buggs. It was the Titans’ fifth
loss by five points or less. Butler (9-7, 3-1) pulled out a
nail-biter at Wright State, 63-62, on Friday on a free throw by
senior Ronald Nored with 0:02.7 remaining. It was the fourth
consecutive victory for the
Butler’s four-game winning streak is currently the longest in the Horizon League.
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.
REVERSE DIRECTION: After dropping four of five games in late November and early December, the Bulldogs have rebounded with five wins in their last six outings. That streak started with a victory over a Purdue squad that entered the game with a 9-2 record. Five days later, Butler handed Stanford its first home loss of 2011-12, snapping the Cardinal’s seven-game homecourt winning streak. Two of Butler’s three Horizon League wins since have come over teams in first place at the time.
Butler’s two road wins this season have come in the past four games.
CLOSE CALLS: Butler’s last five wins have come by an average margin of 3.2 points. The Bulldogs’ three Horizon League wins each were decided in the final minute of play.
END GAME: Senior Ronald Nored hit one of two free throws with less than three seconds remaining to give Butler a 63-62 lead, and the Bulldogs survived a three-point attempt at the buzzer to pick up the one-point victory at Wright State. The game was tied 16 times and featured 20 lead changes, with neither squad able to mount more than a four-point lead. Wright State tied the game for the final time at 62-62 on three free throws by John Balwigaire with 0:21 left. Nored then ran the clock down and drove to the basket, where he was fouled with 0:02.7 left. He calmly made the first free throw and then intentionally missed the second, but was called for a lane violation. Wright State’s Julius Mays then rushed up court and launched a three-point field goal that missed at the final buzzer.
HOT SHOTS: Butler entered the Wright State game in last place in the Horizon League in team field goal shooting (.389). The Bulldogs climbed out of that lowly spot with a season-best shooting performance at the Nutter Center. Butler shot .565 (26-46) in the victory over the Raiders, and that mark included a 19% (3-16) shooting performance from the three-point arc. The Bulldogs hit 76.7% (23-30) on shots inside the three-point line! It was the first time this season that Butler shot better than 50% from the field, and it was the Bulldogs’ best shooting performance since last year’s home victory over Wright State (also .565). The last time a Butler team shot better than .565 was at Calihan Hall last year, when the Bulldogs hit a season-best .569.
BIG PERFORMANCE: Junior Andrew Smith provided the biggest lift for the Bulldogs with a pair of clutch three-point field goals at Wright State. With the Bulldogs trailing, 57-54, Butler’s 6-11 center stepped out and nailed a three-pointer to tie the game with 1:33 left. Then, after Wright State took a 59-57 lead, he another three-point field goal to put the Bulldogs in front with less than a minute remaining. Prior to Smith’s two long-range shots, Butler had connected on just one of 14 (.008) three-point field goal attempts! Smith finished with a team-high 19 points, his most since Nov. 12 and the third-highest single game total of his Butler career. He posted career-highs for field goals (8) and field goal attempts (12) and matched his carer-highs for three-point field goals (2) and three-point field goal attempts (3).
Andrew Smith has led Butler in scoring a team-high five times this season.
BENCH LIFT: Sophomore Khyle Marshall (right) came off the bench and turned in the best shooting performance by a Butler player this season to help lead the Bulldogs past Wright State. The 6-6 forward, who had scored just nine points in Butler’s previous three games, hit seven of eight shots (.875) against the Raiders and finished with 14 points. (Marshall’s lone miss was a three-point field goal attempt, his first since Dec. 20). He scored 10 points in the second half, including four in the final five minutes. It was his fifth double-figures scoring performance of the season, and his third-highest point total of the year. Marshall had hit just three of nine shots in Butler’s previous three games.
Butler has had 10 different players score in double-figures in a game this season.
DIALED IN: Junior Andrew Smith has hit 22 of 31 (.710) field goal attempts in Butler’s last four games. Over the past six outings, the 6-11 center has connected on 27 of 39 (.692) shots. Smith, who hit eight of 12 shots at Wright State, 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 shot .538 from the field (14-26), .556 (5-9) from the three point arc and averaged 12.3 points during Butler’s current four-game winning streak. 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 hit all three shots he attempted and finished with 11 points at Wright State. Nored also has topped the team in assists (13), while sharing the team lead in steals (6) over the past four outings.
ASSIST CLIMB: Ronald Nored, who took over the No. 5 spot on Butler’s all-time assist chart in December, has recorded 18 assists in Butler’s last five games. Nored had a team-high five assists at both Gonzaga and Stanford and a team-best four assists against Green Bay. He enters the Detroit game with 376 career assists.
Ronald Nored is the Horizon League’s active leader in career assists.
•Butler has had a 73-30 advantage in bench scoring in its last three Horizon League games. The Bulldogs’ bench out-scored Wright State’s reserves, 28-15 on Friday.
•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 (2.1). Nored has had three or more steals in seven games this season.
•Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in assists (4.5). He ranks fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.5).
•Ronald Nored has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games.
•Ronald Nored had a season-high seven assists against Detroit at Calihan Hall last year.
•Junior Andrew Smith has scored in double-figures in four consecutive games and in five of the past six outings. He leads the Bulldogs with ten twin-digit efforts.
•Andrew Smith has averaged 13.0 points in Butler’s seven wins this season, but just 7.0 points in the Bulldogs’ seven losses. Butler is 9-1 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith had 15 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in Butler’s victory at Calihan Hall last season.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.574). He’s tied for second in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall matched his career-high with two blocked shots at Wright State.
•Khyle Marshall posted the highest point total of his freshman season with 16 points in 20 minutes in Butler’s win at Detroit last year. The Butler forward also had seven rebounds in the win.
•Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins, who came off the bench with eight points at Wright State, has averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals in Butler’s last two games.
•Freshman Kameron Woods, who had two blocked shots at Wright State, ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.2). He’s had seven blocks in the last four games.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones leads the Bulldogs and ranks tenth in the Horizon League in rebounding (5.9).
•Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in rebounding for the fourth time in five games with a team-high five caroms at Wright State.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie with his former boss, Todd Lickliter, for eighth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (65). Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.