CHALLENGE: Butler, coming off a successful
performance at Youngstown State on Thursday (Feb. 9), will face
another staunch challenge when it visits Cleveland State on
Saturday, Feb. 11 for a rare morning game. The contest
against the potent Vikings at the Wolstein Center will start at 11
a.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Cleveland State (20-5, 10-3), the league-leader heading into this
week, currently sits in second place in the Horizon League,
following a 59-41 loss at home to Valparaiso on Thursday.
That setback was only the second at the Wolstein Center for
Cleveland State this season, and it left the Vikings one-half game
behind league-leading Valparaiso (11-3) in the conference standings
with just over two weeks remaining in the league race. Butler
moved into a tie for fourth place in the standings with a 68-59
victory at Youngstown State on Thursday. The win lifted
Butler (14-12, 8-6 Horizon League) into a tie with the Penguins
(8-6), one-half game behind Milwaukee (8-5) in third place.
The victory also gave the Bulldogs a sweep over Youngstown State
this season. Butler and Cleveland State will be meeting for
the second time this year. The Vikings won the first meeting
at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 76-69, on Jan. 13. Following the game
at Cleveland State, Butler will begin a three-game homestand,
starting with a league test against Loyola on Tuesday, Feb. 14, and
concluding with a conference game against UIC on Tuesday, Feb.
Butler is 3-1 at the Wolstein Center under head coach Brad Stevens.
ROAD WORK: Butler picked up its fourth league road win at Youngstown State on Thursday and its fifth road victory overall this season. Only league-leaders Valparaiso (6) and Cleveland State (6) have more conference road wins than the Bulldogs. Butler has a 45-19 road record in four-plus seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 in Ohio this season.
DOCTOR’S OFFICE: The Bulldogs played the past two games without starting forward Khyle Marshall. The 6-6 sophomore collided with teammate Ronald Nored during a practice drill prior to Butler’s home game against Detroit (Feb. 4), and he’s been sidelined since with concussion symptoms. Marshall continues to be evaluated, and he could be available for Butler’s game against Cleveland State.
LAST OUTING: Fueled by a staunch defensive effort, the Bulldogs pulled away to a 10-point halftime lead, 35-25, and never trailed in the final 20 minutes while handing Youngstown State just its third homecourt loss this season. Butler limited the Horizon League’s top three-point field goal attack to just three baskets from beyond the three-point arc and 17.6% (3-17) three-point shooting. The Penguins, who were averaging 9.1 three-point field goals per game coming into the contest, managed just one three-pointer in the final 24 minutes. Butler led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but needed a 12-4 run with just under eight minutes remaining to hold off a Youngstown State comeback attempt.
FINISHING MOVE: Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins exhibited the offensive form he had displayed earlier this season, and he led the Bulldogs at Youngstown State with 19 points in 27 minutes. He scored 13 points in the second half, and he had nine points during Butler’s decisive 12-4 run late in the game. The 19 points were the most for the 6-1 guard since late November, when he tallied 19 against nationally-ranked Indiana. Hopkins, who was Butler’s leading scorer through the first nine games this season, has scored in double-figures in three of the Bulldogs’ last four contests.
Chrishawn Hopkins has led Butler in scoring in the Bulldogs’ past two wins.
CAREER EFFORT: Freshman Jackson Aldridge (right), who had just one double-figures scoring performance since Jan. 1, came off the bench and matched his collegiate scoring-high with 15 points at Youngstown State. The 6-0 guard hit five of eight shots against the Penguins, including a career-best three of five from beyond the three-point arc. He scored 10 of his points in the first half, while helping the Bulldogs to a 10-point halftime lead. His 15 points matched the total he compiled in Butler’s victory at Stanford just before Christmas. Aldridge posted his fourth career double-figures scoring performance and his first since Jan. 15, when he tallied 10 points against Youngstown State at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
BOARD GAME: Senior Ronald Nored (above) expanded his duties and led both teams with a career-high 11 rebounds at Youngstown State. It was the third time this season that the 6-0 point-guard led the Bulldogs in rebounding and the fourth time for his career. Nored, who helped Butler to a 42-29 rebounding advantage, also led both teams with six assists, and he added eight points.
Ronald Nored has had career-highs for points (18), rebounds (11) and assists (9) in Butler’s last 14 games.
CENTURY CLUB: Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher became just the fourth senior class in Butler basketball history to record 100 career victories. The two have helped Butler to a 101-32 record during their time in the program. Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers (2006-10) are Butler’s all-time winningest class with 118 victories, while Matt Howard, Zach Hahn, Shawn Vanzant, Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin (2007-11) finished with 117. The class of Darnell Archey, Joel Cornette, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore (1999-2003) finished with 100 wins.
TOP TEN: Brad Stevens became the tenth coach in Horizon League history to record 125 career victories while a member of the league earlier this season. He enters Butler’s game at Cleveland State with 131 career wins and in a tie with his former boss, Todd Lickliter (2001-07) for ninth place on the league’s overall wins list. Perry Watson of Detroit owns the league record with 261 victories from 1993 to 2008.
AWARD FINALIST: Senior Ronald Nored has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented for notable achievement in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Nored, a four-year starter, has excelled in the classroom, on the court and in the community during his four seasons with the Bulldogs. He earned first team Horizon League Academic All-League honors last year, and he’s a former Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He’s one of two current collegiate players to see action in each of the past two Division I national championship games. Nored is the second Butler player in two years to be named a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Matt Howard was honored at the 2011 Final Four as one of 10 finalists for last season’s award.
LOOKING AHEAD: Butler will face longtime foe Indiana State in this year’s Sears BracketBuster X on Saturday, Feb. 18. The game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will tip at 2 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on WNDY-TV. The Bulldogs, 4-3 all-time in BracketBusters’ games, are returning to the late season event after a one-year absence.
•Butler shot a season-best .476 (10-21) from beyond the three-point arc against Cleveland State in January. The Bulldogs also had season-highs for free throws made (25) and free throws attempted (42) in the game.
•Senior Ronald Nored stands second on Butler’s all-time list for steals behind career-leader Thomas Jackson (207 from 1998-2002).
•Ronald Nored ranks third in the Horizon League in steals (1.9).
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.8), and he stands third in assist/turnover ratio (1.8). Nored has had 31 assists and 15 turnovers in Butler’s last six games.
•Ronald Nored is shooting a team-best .429 (9-21) from beyond the three-point arc in Butler’s 11 road games this season.
•Ronald Nored had 12 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals against Cleveland State last month.
•Ronald Nored did not start at Cleveland State a year ago, because of a cut hand suffered two nights earlier at Youngstown State. He had just one point and four assists in a limited reserve role.
•Junior Andrew Smith has shot .602 from the field, .529 from beyond the three-point arc and averaged 12.5 points in Butler’s 14 wins this season.
•Andrew Smith is averaging a team-best 10.9 points against league foes.
•Andrew Smith had his first collegiate 20-point scoring performance (and his current career-high) with 22 points against Cleveland State at Hinkle Fieldhouse last season.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall continues to lead the Bulldogs in field goal shooting (.552). He’s fourth in the Horizon League.
•Khyle Marshall has been Butler’s leading scorer on the road this season with a 10.4 average. Marshall also leads the Bulldogs in scoring in weekend games (11.2).
•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with 12 points in 15 minutes against Cleveland State at the Wolstein Center last year.
•Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has hit 20 of his last 22 free throw attempts.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones narrowly missed his third career double-double at Youngstown State, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.
•Roosevelt Jones leads the Bulldogs and ranks seventh in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.2).
•Roosevelt Jones has had a career-high 16 points in three of Butler’s last seven games.
•Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.7). He’s had 12 offensive rebounds in Butler’s last three games.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into seventh place on the Horizon League’s all-time list for league wins with 70 career league victories, two behind Loyola’s Gene Sullivan (1980-89) in sixth place on the all-time list.