Not even a little controversy can distract Butler during its pursuit of a Horizon League title.
The 15th-ranked Bulldogs look for another strong effort at home when they host Illinois-Chicago in a conference matchup Saturday afternoon.
Butler (18-2, 7-2) won 63-50 at home over Loyola of Chicago on Thursday for its second straight victory since losing at Horizon leader Cleveland State on Jan. 17. The second-place Bulldogs trail Cleveland State by one-half game in the league standings.
The Bulldogs’ convincing victory came hours after the team dodged a potential violation of NCAA rules when seniors Mike Green, Pete Campbell and Julian Betko received tickets to watch Iowa play at nearby Indiana on Wednesday. The tickets came from the Hawkeyes’ coaching staff, which includes former Butler coach Todd Lickliter and two former assistants.
While the team was concerned of a possible infraction, the school contacted Horizon League officials about the severity of the incident and ultimately the NCAA gave the three clearance to play.
“I didn’t think it would be any type of problem,” said Campbell, who had 15 points. “We probably could have used better judgment, but it ended up being harmless.”
Freshman Matt Howard had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Green added 13 points for the Bulldogs, who posted their first double-digit win in three contests and looked dominant after a rash of slow starts and inconsistent defensive efforts this month.
Butler held Loyola to 39.6 percent shooting and kept an opponent to fewer than 55 points for the first time in 11 games.
“Any time you’re not playing up to your potential it’s frustrating,” said Green, who’s averaging a team-leading 15.2 points per game. “We want to guard, and when we do that we’re hard to beat.”
Offensively, the 6-foot-8 Howard continued his strong play of late. He averages 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest, but 18.2 and 7.8 boards in his last six games.
Butler, which has won 30 of its last 32 home games and 21 of 22 conference contests at Hinkle Fieldhouse, looks for a fourth straight home win over UIC (10-9, 4-4).
Campbell had 17 and Green 16 in Butler’s 71-45 home win over UIC on Jan. 29 in the most recent meeting. The teams split the season series in 2006-07, but the Bulldogs have won four of the last five against the Flames.
Butler will try to contain UIC junior Josh Mayo. Mayo, a 5-11 guard from Merrillville, Ind., is second in the conference averaging 17.7 points and first with a 54.2 percentage (58-for-107) from 3-point range.
Mayo had 16 points in UIC’s 60-56 defeat at Valparaiso on Thursday for the Flames’ fifth loss in seven games.
Though he’s scored only nine points in two career games at Butler, Mayo had 19 in UIC’s 73-67 overtime home win over the Bulldogs on Jan. 10, 2007.