Senior center Andrew Smith, who missed No. 11 Butler’s game against Charlotte on Wednesday due to an abdominal injury, has been cleared to return to practice and is a game-time decision for Saturday’s game at Fordham according to a school release.
Smith suffered the injury going after a loose ball in the Bulldogs’ 59-56 win at George Washington last Saturday, and early reports had the 6-8 senior sitting out both of Butler’s games this week.
“Andrew has progressed more quickly than expected,” Butler head coach Brad Stevens said in the release. “Whether or not he’ll play at Fordham will be a game day decision.”
On the season Smith’s averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, connecting on 54.3% of his shots from the field. Without Smith on Wednesday, junior forward Erik Fromm moved into the starting lineup and played well, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
On the season Fromm’s averaging 4.0 points and and 3.1 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game for Butler, who will be a prohibitive favorite to beat Fordham on Saturday whether Smith plays or not. But as seen in Duquesne’s surprising win at Temple on Thursday night, nothing is to be taken for granted in the Atlantic 10.
Butler still has games against Saint Louis, VCU and UMass (the VCU and UMass games are on the road) remaining on the regular season schedule, and they’ll need Smith to be at full strength for those matchups.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: