Butler will close out its two-game Chicago swing and try to pick up
its third consecutive victory when it visits Loyola on Saturday,
Jan. 21. The first meeting between the two squads this season
will be the Horizon League Network Game of the Week and will be
televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
The Bulldogs began the Chicago trip with a 57-49 victory at UIC on
Thursday (Jan. 19). That win lifted Butler to 11-9 on the
season and 5-3 in league play and gave the Bulldogs at least
temporary sole possession of fourth place in the league
standings. The victory also was Butler’s third in the
past four road games. Loyola, Butler’s longest-standing
league rival, fell to 5-13 on the year and 0-8 in league action
with a 69-48 setback at home to Valparaiso on Thursday. The
Ramblers, under first-year head coach Porter Moser, boast two of
the league’s top individual performers in senior Walt Gibler
and junior Ben Averkamp. The two forwards are combining for
28.4 of Loyola’s 55.2 points per game, and both rank among
the top seven scorers in the Horizon League. Loyola
also has senior Jordan Hicks, who scored 23 points in the
Rambler’s last victory over Butler in 2008-09.
Butler’s game at Loyola will be the Bulldogs’ second of
four consecutive road tests. The Bulldogs will continue their
longest road stretch of the season at league-leading Milwaukee on
Thursday, Jan. 26.
Butler has won 11 consecutive games in Chicago, including 10 under head coach Brad Stevens.
RACE WEEK: Butler’s two-game trip to Chicago will close out the first half of the 2011-12 Horizon League race. And if the first four weeks of league play are any indication, this year’s race could match last year’s when three teams wound up sharing the league regular season title. Five teams entered the week within two games of first place in the league standings. Milwaukee, Cleveland State and Valparaiso have been locked in a battle for first place, with Butler and Youngstown State close behind. Cleveland State hosts Milwaukee in a key league match on Sunday, Jan. 22. Three of Butler’s first seven Horizon League games were decided in the final minute of play, while a fourth league contest came down to an overtime period.
Butler has won five consecutive Horizon League regular season titles.
FIRST DEFENSE: Butler needed a rock-solid defensive effort to hand UIC just its third setback in nine home games this season. The Bulldogs overcame an 18-10 deficit in the first half by holding the host Flames to just seven points over the final 10 minutes of the opening period. Butler then limited UIC to just three field goals in the first 39 minutes of the second half! Freshman Roosevelt Jones broke a 25-25 tie with a conventional three-point play with five seconds remaining in the first half, and the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead in the final period. Butler, which led by as many as nine points in the second half, held off a comeback attempt by the Flames by hitting nine free throws in the final two minutes of the game. UIC finished with a season-low 17 field goals.
ILLINI CHALLENGE: Freshman Roosevelt Jones (right), Butler’s lone player from Illinois, celebrated his first collegiate game in his home state with a career-best performance. Jones, from O’Fallon, Ill., scored a career-high 16 points to lead all players from both teams. He had career-highs of six field goals and 13 field goal attempts, and he hit four of five attempts from the charity stripe. Jones scored five points in the final three minutes of the first half to help the Bulldogs take the lead for good, and then he scored a team-high seven points in the second half to help the Bulldogs maintain the upper hand. Jones had not scored in double-figures in Butler’s previous 10 games.
Roosevelt Jones led Butler in scoring for just the second time this season.
BOARD REVIEW: Butler’s 38% (19-50) shooting against UIC was somewhat offset by the Bulldogs’ 39-33 rebounding advantage in the game. The Bulldogs, led by sophomore Khyle Marshall, pulled down 16 offensive rebounds in the game and turned those into 14 second chance points. Marshall led both teams with seven offensive rebounds and 10 total boards. It was his second double-figures rebounding performance this season and the third of his Butler career. Marshall had five offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, while helping Butler to a 19-12 first half rebounding advantage.
Butler leads the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (13.2).
SENIOR MOMENT: Guard Ronald Nored continued to elevate his performance with a strong overall effort against UIC. The 6-0 Butler floor-leader finished with 10 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in 38 minutes against the Flames. He hit four free throws in the final 1:10 to help the Bulldogs stymie UIC’s comeback attempts. Over the past five games, Nored has averaged 10.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting .481 from the field. He’s recorded seven assists in each of Butler’s last three contests!
FRESH SPARK: Freshman Kameron Woods, who came off the bench with 10 points and 10 rebounds to help lift the Bulldogs past Youngstown State last weekend, ignited the Bulldogs with eight points and two rebounds in 11 minutes in the first half at UIC. He scored five of his points in Butler’s 18-7 run to end the opening period, helping the Bulldogs take the lead for good. Woods left the game in the second half after a wayward elbow bloodied his nose, but he did return later in the contest, and he is expected to play at Loyola.
Kameron Woods has had a team-high three double-doubles this season.
BENCH PRESS: Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins came off the bench at UIC and gave the Bulldogs a lift for the second straight game. The 6-1 guard tallied five points and three rebounds in eight minutes in the second half. He hit a three-point field goal midway through the final period to give the Bulldogs a 40-31 advantage. One game earlier, Hopkins came off the bench with six points and four assists in 18 minutes of action against Youngstown State.
CHARITABLE CONSIDERATION: The Bulldogs, shooting just 61% from the free throw line heading into the game, connected on eight of 10 shots from the charity stripe in the final 1:10 of the win at UIC. Freshman Jackson Aldridge was perfect on four attempts, all in the final 37 seconds, while senior Ronald Nored added four of six. The Bulldogs wound up hitting 15 of 22 (.682) from free throw line for the game.
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 on Dec. 31. He enters Butler’s game at Loyola with 128 career wins, three 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.
•Senior Ronald Nored is the Horizon League’s active leader in career assists (398). He stand fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart.
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.7) and he’s fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.7). Nored has had 21 assists and five turnovers in Butler’s last three games.
•Ronald Nored is third on Butler’s all-time list for steals (179), four behind A. J. Graves (2004-08) in the No. 2 position. Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (1.9).
•Ronald Nored has scored in double-figures in six of Butler’s last eight games.
•Ronald Nored, who was recovering from a concussion suffered two games earlier, did not play in Butler’s game at Loyola last year.
•Junior Andrew Smith has averaged 13.0 points in Butler’s 11 wins this season, but just 7.4 points in the Bulldogs’ nine losses. Butler is 10-2 when Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith is shooting 58% (33-57) against Horizon League foes this season.
•Andrew Smith ranks sixth in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.5). He had two offensive boards against UIC.
•Andrew Smith had six points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and a career-high three steals in a career-best 36 minutes in Butler’s last meeting with Loyola.
•Junior Chase Stigall had five rebounds at UIC on Thursday, his most since Butler’s victory over Purdue in December and one off his career-high.
•Chase Stigall ranks seventh in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (1.8).
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.552). He ranks fourth in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with nine points and six rebounds in nine minutes of action in last year’s game at Loyola.
•Freshman Kameron Woods matched his career-high with three blocked shots at UIC. Woods ranks seventh in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.1).
•Kameron Woods stands ninth in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.2).
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the league in offensive rebounds (2.6).
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge has hit 20 of his last 20 free throw attempts, including 13 straight.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved ahead of his former boss, Todd Lickliter, into ninth place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins (67). Perry Watson of Detroit is the all-time leader with 131 victories.