Butler holds off Titans, 63-58

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Butler’s last loss is still fresh in Gordon Hayward’s mind, even though it came in December.

Hayward had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 23 Butler past Detroit 63-58 on Thursday night for its 11th straight win.

Matt Howard finished with 11 points and Ronald Nored scored nine for the Bulldogs (19-4, 12-0 Horizon League), whose last loss came to UAB on Dec. 22. Butler’s winning streak matches the fourth longest in program history.

“Definitely still remember the loss,” said Hayward, who went 4 of 7 from the field and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. “The losses hurt so much. We’re not really looking at that, we’re just looking at the next day.”

Butler hosts conference foe Wright State on Saturday night.

“We’re not really looking at 11, we’re trying to see if we can’t play better in No. 12,” Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said.

Chase Simon had 15 points and Thomas Kennedy scored 12 for Detroit (14-9, 7-5), which dropped its eighth straight to Butler. The Titans were trying to beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since Feb. 1979.

The Bulldogs escaped with a 64-62 overtime win at Detroit on Jan. 10.

“They are a really good basketball team who could beat a lot of people on a given day,” Stevens said. “They are very, very good.”

After opening the game with 10 straight points, Butler fell behind 16-15 midway through the first half. Despite committing 10 turnovers, resulting in 11 Detroit points, the Bulldogs took a 30-26 lead on Avery Jukes’ rebound and tip-in at the buzzer.

“We knew we had to play very well and we wanted to get off to a good start to win the basketball game,” Titans coach Ray McCallum said. “A slow start affected us, but I thought we came back and played through it.”

Butler opened a six-point lead on Shawn Vanzant’s 3-pointer with 13 minutes left in the game, but Kennedy’s 3 got the Titans within 45-44 a few minutes later. Hayward scored the next six points to help Butler regain the momentum.

Stevens said the consecutive three-point plays by Hayward was the turning point.

“In retrospect you’d say that, but I don’t think you feel that as a coach,” Stevens said. “You just want to finish the game, finish the game, finish the game.”

Detroit cut the deficit to 53-50 with 4 minutes left, but the Bulldogs answered with a 10-3 run to seal the victory.

“We’re just finding ways to win,” Hayward said. “That’s what you got to do in a tough conference schedule like we have.”

Butler tied a season-high with 21 turnovers, compared to Detroit’s 16.

“Somehow we got the win,” Hayward said. “That’s a really good feeling if we can pull games out like this.”