FIRST LOOK: For the third time in the
past four games, Butler will face a team that entered the week in
first place in the Horizon League standings. The Bulldogs
will host Cleveland State on Friday, Jan. 13, in a game that will
be televised on ESPNU at 7 p.m. (ET). Cleveland State,
currently tied with Youngstown State one-half game behind
league-leading Milwaukee, brings the league’s best overall
record (14-3) to Friday’s game. The Vikings have won
nine of their last 11 games, including two straight, and they come
to Indianapolis as the league leader in scoring margin (+7.0),
steals (9.2), assists (14.2) and turnover margin (+4.5), while
ranking second in scoring defense (58.0). Included on
Cleveland State’s resume is a 7-1 road record, the
league’s lone winning road ledger. The Vikings began
that road success with a convincing victory at Vanderbilt, ranked
seventh nationally at the time. Cleveland State swept Loyola,
73-56, and UIC, 73-56, at home in its most recent outings.
Butler is coming off a split of a league road trip to Wright State
and Detroit. The Bulldogs edged Wright State, 63-62, before
falling at Detroit, 76-65. The two games left Butler at 9-8
overall and 3-2 in Horizon League action. Friday’s game
will be the first of consecutive tests against top league teams for
the Bulldogs. Youngstown State, the only league squad to beat
Cleveland State this season, visits Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday
The last four times that Butler has faced Cleveland State (including this year), the Vikings have been in first place in the Horizon League.
‘DOGS HOUSE: Butler, which suffered its first two-game, homecourt losing streak in five years under head coach Brad Stevens in December, has won its last two home games and stands 6-3 at home on the season. The Bulldogs handed Green Bay its first Horizon League setback on Dec. 29 and then gave Milwaukee its first league loss two days later. Since Stevens took over as head coach, Butler is 62-8 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs have won 36 of 39 Horizon League regular season home games.
Butler is 158-22 at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
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.
HOT SPOT: Host Detroit turned a season-best 56.3% shooting performance from beyond the three-point arc into an 11-point victory over the Bulldogs in the second game of Butler’s initial Horizon League road swing. The Titans, who entered the game in last place in the league in three-point shooting (.268), hit nine of 16 long-range shots against the Bulldogs. Detroit connected on four of seven three-point attempts in the first half, while building a 38-26 halftime lead. Detroit wound up shooting 53.2% (25-47) from the field and 81% (17-21) from the free throw line for the game. The nine three-pointers in the game were the most by the Titans against a Division I foe this season. Butler began its two-game road swing with a one-point win at Wright State less than 48 hours earlier.
STEPPING UP: Senior Ronald Nored (right) shot 70% from the field and averaged 12.0 points on Butler’s two-game trip to Wright State and Detroit. He was perfect from the field (3-3) and hit four of five from the free throw line, while scoring 11 points in the win at Wright State. The 6-0 guard then led the Bulldogs in scoring at Detroit with 13 points, hitting four of seven shots including two of two from beyond the three-point arc. Over the past five games, Nored has shot .545 from the field (18-33), .636 (7-11) from the three point arc and averaged 12.4 points. He led the Bulldogs with a career-high 18 points at Stanford and then shared the team lead with 13 points against Green Bay. Nored also has topped the team in assists (14) and steals (8) over the past five outings.
IMPROVED TOUCH: Butler entered the Wright State-Detroit trip in last place in the Horizon League in team field goal shooting (.389). The Bulldogs climbed out of the basement with a season-best shooting performance at Wright State and then followed that with 52% shooting in the second half at Detroit. Butler shot at a .565 (26-46) clip in the victory over the Raiders, despite hitting just three of 16 (19%) shots from the three-point arc. The Bulldogs hit 76.7% (23-30) on shots inside the three-point line! Butler then hit 14 of 27 shots in the final 20 minutes at Detroit. Over the last five games, the Bulldogs have shot .432 from the field and recorded two of the top three single game performances of the season.
ROAD WARRIOR: Sophomore Khyle Marshall came off the bench and recorded back-to-back, double-figures scoring performances for the Bulldogs at Wright State and Detroit. The 6-6 forward had the best shooting performance by a Butler player this season, while scoring 14 points at Wright State. He hit seven of eight shots (.875) against the Raiders, with his lone miss coming from beyond the three-point arc. Marshall then scored 11 points in 20 minutes at Detroit. He averaged 12.5 points and shot 66.7% from the field on the two-game trip.
Khyle Marshall has averaged a team-best 11.1 points on the road this season.
DIALED IN: Junior Andrew Smith has hit 24 of 36 (.667) field goal attempts in Butler’s last five games. Smith, who hit 10 of 17 shots on Butler’s recent two-game road trip, 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.
CRASH COURSE: Freshman Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in rebounding on both legs of the Wright State-Detroit trip. The 6-4 forward had five rebounds against both foes, and he had a team-high six offensive boards on the two-game swing. Jones, who leads the Bulldogs in rebounding on the season, has topped the team on the boards in five of the past six games. He ranks tenth in the Horizon League in rebounding (5.9).
STEAL WILL: Ronald Nored became the fourth player in Butler history to record 175 career steals with his first theft at Detroit. He added a second steal later in the game, and he enters this week’s action in a tie with Darren Fowlkes, 1985-89, for third place on Butler’s all-time steals list. Nored trails A. J. Graves, 2004-08, in second place on the all-time list by seven thefts. Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002, is Butler’s all-time leader with 207 career steals.
TOP TEN: Brad Stevens became the tenth coach in Horizon League history to record 125 career victories while a member of the league with the Bulldogs’ win over Milwaukee in the last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. He enters this weekend’s action with 126 career wins, five behind his former boss, Todd Lickliter (2001-07) in ninth place on the league’s overall wins list. Perry Watson of Detroit owns the league record with 261 victories from 1993 to 2008.
•Butler has had a 107-47 advantage in bench scoring in its last four Horizon League games. The Bulldogs’ bench out-scored Butler’s two most recent foes, 62-32.
•Senior Ronald Nored is the Horizon League’s active leader in career assists (377). He stand fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart.
•Ronald Nored is second in the Horizon League in assists (4.3). He ranks fifth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.5).
•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 has scored in double-figures in four of Butler’s last five games.
•Ronald Nored scored 13 points and matched his career-high with eight rebounds against Cleveland State in last year’s game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
•Junior Andrew Smith had averaged 13.0 points in Butler’s nine wins this season, but just 6.8 points in the Bulldogs’ eight losses. Butler is 9-1 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith averaged 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in Butler’s three games against Cleveland State last year. He scored in double figures in each of the three wins.
•Andrew Smith is Butler’s leading scorer at Hinkle Fieldhouse (10.1) this season.
•Junior Chase Stigall made his first collegiate start at Cleveland State a year ago. The Butler guard had 17 points in three games against the Vikings in 2010-11.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.568). He ranks third in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with 11 points in Butler’s victory over Cleveland State at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year. He had 12 points in the Bulldogs’ win at CSU.
•Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has come off the bench with 28 points in Butler’s last three contests. He had scored 19 total points in Butler’s previous seven outings.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (3.0).
•Freshman Andrew Smeathers came off the bench with eight points at Detroit, his most against a Division I foe this season.
•Butler has had eight different players lead the team or share the team lead in scoring in the past nine games.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie with his former boss, Todd Lickliter, for ninth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (65), on victory behind Rob Jeter of Milwaukee. Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.