Ronald Nored is one of my favorite players in the country.
Six feet tall in sneakers and 175 lb soaking wet, Nored, the point guard for the Butler Bulldogs, is one of the best on-ball perimeter defenders in the country. He’s one of those rare guys that can dominate a game without needing a shot. He was one of Butler’s most important pieces in their run to the title game last season, and his return from a concussion is a major reason that Butler has been more competitive the last two games.
Love him as a player.
But I think it is safe to say that tonight was not Nored’s best night.
In a game that was as ugly as it was close, Butler rallied back from a ten point second half deficit to tie the game at 49 with just over a minute left on a three point play from Andrew Smith. After forcing Tu Holloway to miss a three, Nored drew a foul on Xavier center Kenny Frease with just 33 ticks left.
Nored is not a great free throw shooter, and he clanged both.
At the other end, Mark Lyons drove to the rim, but the ball was knocked out of bounds of Butler with 4.0 seconds left. On the in bounds, a pass was thrown over Nored’s head. He tried to make a steal, but undercut Lyons.
Two shots for Lyons.
Fifth foul on Nored.
The sophomore knocked down both. Shelvin Mack got a pretty good look at a three at the buzzer, but he missed, and Xavier pulled out a tough win at home.
So not only did Nored miss out on a chance to give Butler the lead with 33 seconds left, he committed a silly foul 35 feet from the back with four seconds on the clock that cost the Bulldogs a game they really needed. Like I said, not exactly his best game.
With the loss, Butler is all but erased from contention for an at-large bid. They don’t have another meaningful game on their non-conference schedule, and with their best win of the season coming over a Siena team that isn’t even the favorite to win the MAAC, the Bulldogs win need to win the Horizon’s auto-bid if they want to go dancing.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.