Butler Makes First Visit To Gonzaga
'DOG FIGHT: Butler and Gonzaga, two teams that share the same nickname and a similar pedigree, will meet in a nationally-televised game in Spokane, Wash., on Tuesday, Dec. 20. The game between two teams that have come to define success outside of the BCS conferences is slated for 6 p.m. (PT, 9 p.m. in Indianapolis) at Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center and will be televised on ESPN2. Butler and Gonzaga will be meeting for just the second time ever and for the first time in Spokane. The previous meeting came in the championship game of the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden, and Butler prevailed, 79-71. The two teams will play again at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse next season. Butler snapped a three-game losing skid with a dramatic, 67-65, victory over Purdue at the Close The Gap Crossroads Classic. That win lifted Butler to 5-6 on the season. Gonzaga won its second straight game and improved to 7-2 on the season with a convincing, 71-60, victory over Arizona in its last outing. Butler will close out its West Coast trip with a game at Stanford on Thursday, Dec. 22.
Butler is playing in the state of Washington for the first time.
CHALLENGING SLATE: Butler's two-game trip to the West Coast will wrap up a five-game stretch featuring four teams that are either nationally-ranked or receiving votes in the national polls. The Bulldogs, coming off games with #8 Xavier, Ball State,and Purdue (RV), will face Gonzaga (RV), and once-beaten Stanford (RV) to close out the pre-Christmas slate. Butler has already played No. 7 Louisville and unbeaten Indiana (ranked No. 18 in the Dec. 12 national poll).
Butler's last five Division I opponents boast a current combined 40-10 record.
CLASSIC FINISH: The first game of the initial Close The Gap Crossroads Classic, featuring Butler, Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, ended in dramatic fashion in front of a crowd of 19,064. Butler rallied from a 15-point deficit and defeated Purdue, 67-65, on a buzzer-beater when junior Andrew Smith tipped in a missed lay-up attempt by teammate Roosevelt Jones with 0:01 remaining. A final desperation half-court shot by the Boilermakers came up short, giving the Bulldogs a third consecutive victory over their Big Ten foe.
STRONG CLOSING: Butler out-scored Purdue, 32-19, in the second half to pull out the come-from-behind victory. The Bulldogs trailed by 15 points, 46-31, late in the first half and were down, 46-35, at halftime. The Boilermakers maintained a double-digit lead through the first six minutes of the final period, before Butler began to chip away at the margin. The Bulldogs used an 8-1 run to cut the lead to 58-54 midway through the second half and then finished the game on a 13-2 run for the victory. It was the fourth straight game that Butler out-scored its opponent in the second half.
Butler has trailed at halftime in its last eight Division I games.
BIG SHOT: The game-winning tip-in by Andrew Smith against Purdue brought back memories of another big moment by the 6-11 Butler forward. Smith converted a lay-up with less than three seconds remaining for the go-ahead points against #4 Pittsburgh in the third round of last year's NCAA Tournament, and it would have been the game-winner had not two strange fouls occurred in the final two-plus seconds. Smith also hit a shot at the buzzer that appeared to lift Butler past Evansville in this year's season-opener, but officials later waived off the basket with a ruling that the Bulldogs' forward was fouled before the shot.
DEFENSE MOTION: The Bulldogs used a staunch defensive effort to fuel their comeback against Purdue. Butler limited their Big Ten foe to just six field goals and 19 points in the final 20 minutes. The Boilermakers, who shot 56% in the first half, connected on just 21% of their shots in the final period, including just two of nine from beyond the three-point arc. The Bulldogs held Purdue to a single point over the final six-and-a-half minutes of the game and limited the Boilermakers to just four points in the final 8:48!
BENCHMARK: Sparked by freshman Kameron Woods (above) and junior Chase Stigall (right), Butler compiled a 36-9 advantage in bench scoring against the Boilermakers. Woods came off the bench to match Andrew Smith's 12 points and share team scoring honors, and his clutch three-point field goal with 2:48 remaining cut a one-time, 15-point Purdue lead to a single point, 64-63. Stigall chipped in with 11 points, including a driving lay-up with 0:14 remaining that gave Butler its first lead, 65-64.
SCORING VARIETY: Kameron Woods became the eighth different Butler player to lead or share the team lead in scoring in the first 11 games this season. Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins has led the Bulldogs outright in three games this year, while junior Andrew Smith has topped the team alone twice and shared the team scoring lead once. Sophomore Khyle Marshall has led the Bulldogs twice, while senior Ronald Nored and freshman Andrew Smeathers each have finished on top once. Junior Chase Stigall and freshman Roosevelt Jones shared Butler's scoring lead against #8 Xavier.
FRESH LOOK: Freshman Roosevelt Jones scored Butler's first eight points of the second half against Purdue to ignite Butler's comeback. The 6-4 forward, in his fifth game as a starter for the Bulldogs, added five rebounds, a team-high four assists and a steal in Butler's win. Jones has averaged 8.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in five games as a starter.
BOARDING PASS: Senior Ronald Nored, Butler's shortest starter at 6-0, wound up leading the Bulldogs on the boards against Purdue with a season- and game-high seven rebounds. Nored's total in the game was one off his career-high set against Milwaukee (3/6/10), Cleveland State (1/7/11) and UIC (2/7/11).
ASSIST CLIMB: Ronald Nored took over the No. 5 spot on Butler's all-time assist chart with three assists against Purdue. His third assist gave him 358 for his career, and moved him ahead of former teammate and current Washington Wizards guard Shelvin Mack (2008-11) on the all-time Butler list. Mack finished his three-year career with 357 assists.
Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assists (4.9).
STEAL WORKS: Ronald Nored, who had a team-high two steals against Purdue, heads into Butler's game at Gonzaga in fourth place on Butler's all-time list for steals with 168 career thefts. Darren Fowlkes stands third on the all-time list with 176 steals from 1985-89. Butler's all-time record for steals in 207, set by Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002.
Ronald Nored is second among active players in the Horizon League in career steals.
•Butler's victory over Purdue was the Bulldogs' fourth in the last five meetings with a team from the Big Ten Conference. Under head coach Brad Stevens, Butler has won eight of 11 games against opponents from the Big Ten Conference.
•Junior Andrew Smith was named Horizon League Player of the Week for his performance against Purdue. Smith finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal, and he had the game-winning tip-in with 0:01 remaining. He's the first Butler player to earn league Player of the Week honors this season.
•Andrew Smith was chosen as National High-Major Player of the Week by the website College Sports Madness following Butler's win over Purdue.
•Andrew Smith ranks eighth in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.3). He stands fourth in the league in offensive rebounds (2.7).
•Andrew Smith has averaged 12.8 points in Butler's five wins this season, but just 7.8 points in the Bulldogs' six losses.
•Senior Ronald Nored made his 100th career start in Butler's win over Purdue.
•Ronald Nored leads the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.9).
•Ronald Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in steals (2.5). Nored has had three or more steals in six of Butler's 11 games this season.
•Ronald Nored is third in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.8).
•Ronald Nored is the active career leader in assists in the Horizon League with 358.
•Junior Chase Stigall, who connected on three three-point fields goal at Ball State, stands third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.3). Stigall has hit at least one three-point field goal in Butler's last ten games.
•Sophomore Khyle Marshall, who hit four of six shots against Purdue, is the lone Butler player shooting better than 50% from the field this season. Marshall ranks third in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.573).
•Sophomore Erik Fromm came off the bench with nine points in 15 minutes against Purdue. It was the second-highest scoring total of his Butler career.
•Freshman Roosevelt Jones ranks third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (3.0). Freshman teammate Kameron Woods is eighth (2.4).
•Kameron Woods recorded a game-high three blocked shots against Purdue. It was the third time in his young career that Woods has notched three blocks in a game.
•Freshman Jackson Aldridge has moved into third place in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.8212). Aldridge hit all four of his free throw attempts against Purdue.
•The Bulldogs are second in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (14.2) and offensive rebound percentage (.367).
(Photos by John Fetcho)