Bulldogs Win Home-Opener
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Junior Andrew Smith recorded his second career double-double and Butler used a staunch defensive effort to dispatch visiting Chattanooga, 57-46, in the Bulldogs' 2011-12 home-opener at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The game was Butler's first in the five-team Hoosier Invitational.
Smith (below), a 6-11 center, led both teams with 16 points, hitting five of eight shots from the field and five of seven from the free throw line. He also led both teams with 10 rebounds, one off his career-high. His performance followed a 21-point effort in Butler's tough season-opening double-overtime loss at Evansville.
But it was Butler's defensive effort that claimed the spotlight. The Bulldogs limited Chattanooga (0-2), a team favored in the Southern Conference, to just 19 points in the second half. The Mocs scored just six points in the final 13 minutes of the contest.
"I'm really proud of our guys," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "When you hold (Omar) Wattad, (Keegan) Bell and (Ricky) Taylor down like we did, that's a pretty good thing."
"At some point during a year you have to win a game where it's a grinder, nobody's making shots, both teams are guarding and you've got to gut one out. Coming off the Evansville game, I'm really proud of the way our guys responded. I thought they were resilient."
Wattad, who had 24 points in Chattanooga's loss at Indiana on Sunday (Nov. 13), scored just 10 points against the Bulldogs. Taylor, the Mocs' second-leading scorer a year ago, finished with a team-high 13 points, while Bell, the team's third-leading scorer last season, had four.
The two teams were never separated by more than seven points in the first 20 minutes, and the Bulldogs held a slim, 28-27, lead at halftime. Smith and senior Ronald Nored then sparked a 13-4 run to open the second half, giving the Bulldogs a ten-point advantage, 41-31. Smith had six points in the run and Nored added five, including a three-point field goal to finish the run.
The double-digit lead was short-lived. Chattanooga went on its own 10-4 run to cut Butler's lead to 45-41. The Mocs closed to within three points at 47-44 on a pair of free throws by Bell with 6:07 remaining, but the Bulldogs ended the game on a 10-2 run for the final margin.
Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins, who scored 22 points at Evansville, backed Smith with 12 points, while Nored and sophomore Khyle Marshall each added eight. Nored also had five assists and four steals in the win.
Freshmen Kameron Woods and Roosevelt Jones each made their collegiate debut in the game, and each had an impact. Woods finished with four points, seven rebounds and a team-high three blocked shots in 21 minutes, while Jones had two point and five rebounds in 12 minutes. Butler prevailed on the boards with a 34-31 edge over Chattanooga.
Prior to the game, Butler unveiled its 2010-11 Final Four banner, with former players Shelvin Mack, Zach Hahn, Alex Anglin and Grant Leiendecker standing on the sidelines with the current players.
The Chattanooga contest was the first of four games Butler will play in the Hoosier Invitational. The Bulldogs will host Savannah State on Monday, Nov. 21, and Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Nov. 23, before finishing the tournament at Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 27.
But next up for the Bulldogs is a visit from No. 7 Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 19. The game against the nationally-ranked Cardinals will tip at 2 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse.