November 29, 2011

Bulldogs Roll Past Oakland City

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Six players scored in double-figures and Butler posted up its highest point total in a decade while rolling to a 98-53 victory over Oakland City in a non-league game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Nov. 29.  The victory lifted the Bulldogs to 4-3 on the young season.

Freshman Andrew Smeathers came off the bench and scored a career-high 17 points in the game's final 10 minutes to lead Butler's balanced attack.  Junior Chase Stigall finished with a career-high 15 points, while junior Andrew Smith added 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.  Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins tallied 11 points, while sophomore Erik Fromm and freshman Kameron Woods each added a career-high 10 points.

"I thought we were a little timid against the zone early as far as shooting open ones.  We were looking for the greatest of great looks instead of just shooting open ones," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  "Other than that, I thought we played pretty well on both ends."

The Bulldogs, coming off a 75-59 loss at Indiana 48 hours earlier, left little doubt in their return to Hinkle Fieldhouse.  After Oakland City (3-3) scored the game's first basket on a steal and lay-up by Cameron LaFear, Butler ran off 23 of the next 26 points to take control for good.  Seven different players contributed to the opening run, led by Woods with seven points.

Butler led 42-18 at halftime, and the Bulldogs stretched the margin to as many as 47 points in the final period.  Stevens used 13 different players in the game and ten cracked the scoring column.

Smith sparked Butler's early surge with 12 points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes.  Stigall picked up the pace in the second half, hitting four of his career-high five three-point field goals in the final 20 minutes.

Smeathers (left) kept the Bulldogs rolling with a stunning long-range shooting exhibition in the game's closing minutes.  The 6-6 guard hit five of seven shots from beyond the three-point arc and added a pair of free throws for his team-high total.  His 17 points were the most by a Butler freshman since 2009, when Shelvin Mack scored 18 against LSU in the NCAA Tournament.

"I thought the most important thing, and I told him and it showed, was that he had good competitive level," said Stevens of Smeathers' performance.  "I thought he was really aggressive.  He unfortunately fouled a couple of times, but sometimes that's a result of being more aggressive.  And I thought on both ends of the floor, he was tough with the ball.  I just thought he did a lot of good things."

Smeathers wasn't the only Butler newcomer doing good things.  Woods posted his first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 14 minutes.  Freshman Roosevelt Jones, getting his first collegiate start, finished with six points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.  And freshman Jackson Aldridge posted five points, and career-highs of six rebounds and four assists.

Senior co-captain Ronald Nored scored just two points, but he recorded a game-high seven assists and a game-high three steals in 23 minutes.

The 98 points were the most scored by a Butler team since December of 2001, when the Bulldogs defeated Evansville, 101-65.  And Butler's 56 points in the second half against Oakland City were the most in one half since the first half of that Evansville game, when the Bulldogs rolled up 58 points.

The Bulldogs connected on 15 three-point field goals against the Mighty Oaks, which was the most by a Butler team since January of 2009, when Butler hit 15 against Milwaukee.  The last time Butler had more three-pointers was at the Great Alaska Shootout in 2007, when the Bulldogs nailed 16 three-point field goals in a victory over Texas Tech.

Smith and Woods helped the Bulldogs to a 56-29 rebounding advantage in the game, and that total was the most by a Butler team since January of 1995 when the Bulldogs piled up 58 rebounds in a victory over Sacramento State.

Butler will continue its current homestand and begin Horizon League play on Saturday, Dec. 3, when Valparaiso visits Hinkle Fieldhouse.  The game against the 5-2 Crusaders will tip at 2 p.m.