The Butler men’s basketball team headed into Super Bowl weekend looking to get out of a logjam in the middle of the Horizon League standings.
The Bulldogs (13-12, 7-6) were unable to do so, splitting their two-game homestand this weekend against Wright State and Detroit.
Playing before a sold-out crowd at Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon, Butler made a late-game surge but ultimately fell to visiting Detroit 65-61.
The Bulldogs had not lost to the Titans (13-12, 7-6) at home since 1999 and had won 10 straight against Detroit before January’s loss at
Sophomore guard and reigning Horizon League Player of the Week Ray McCallum Jr. led Detroit with 20 points and four rebounds.
“I thought Ray played like the pre-season player of the year today,” coach Brad Stevens said.
Butler freshman forward Roosevelt Jones put up his second career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, tying a career-high in both categories.
“I thought Roosevelt was terrific, and [he] continues to play like one of the better newcomers around,” Stevens said.
The Bulldogs were without sophomore forward Khyle Marshall, who suffered a concussion in practice Friday.
To make matters worse, senior guard Ronald Nored spent most of the first half in the locker room after suffering a broken tooth after diving for a loose ball.
Nored would later return and tie his career-high mark of nine assists.
The Bulldogs trailed 28-27 at the half after the two sides battled back and forth during each possession in the opening 20 minutes.
Ultimately the 18 turnovers forced by the Detroit defense proved too much for Butler to overcome.
“When we’re on our game, we’re able to pressure and force turnovers,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. “We want to get out and score in transition.”
Butler junior center Andrew Smith was the team’s leading scorer with 18 points, while sophomore forward Erik Fromm finished with 10 points.
“Overall, I liked our effort,” Stevens said. “But I thought a few guys played timid.
“We stopped some of our drives short when I thought we could have kept going and dished to the other side or finished the play.”
On Thursday, Butler took the lead early against Wright State and never looked back, winning 64-53.
The Bulldogs shot 62 percent from the field in the first half and went to halftime with a 35-26 lead over the Raiders (11-14, 6-7).
Butler sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins led the way with 13 points while Jones picked up 11 rebounds.
Fromm came off the bench and made four out of his five field goal attempts—including two from 3-point range—to finish with 10 points.
The Bulldogs finished the game with 21 points off the bench.
“Moving forward, I think consistency is the key for us and if we can get more players to be more consistent and comfortable I think that’s really positive,” Fromm said.
Butler will head to Ohio to take on Youngstown State Thursday night before facing off against Horizon League-leading Cleveland State on Saturday.
In a game against the Penguins (13-10, 8-5) at home on Jan. 15, the Bulldogs came away with a 71-55 victory.
At the end of the contest, Butler was 10-9 while Youngstown State was 9-8. Both teams also held 4-3 records in the conference.
Since then, the Bulldogs have played .500 basketball while the Penguins have lost just one league game.
Likewise, the Vikings (20-4, 10-2) of Cleveland State have only gotten better since facing Butler on Jan. 13.
Cleveland State left Hinkle with a 76-69 win that night and has gone on to win five more Horizon League contests, giving them a half-game lead over Valparaiso in the league.