Butler Begins Challenging Wisconsin Trip At Green Bay

NORTHERN LIGHTS:  Butler will conclude its current four-game road stretch when visits Wisconsin for a pair of games, starting with a key Horizon League test at Green Bay on Friday, Jan. 29.  The showdown between the league’s top two teams is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT, 9 p.m. in Indianapolis) and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.  Butler head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t have to remind his squad about the challenge it faces in Wisconsin.  The Bulldogs lost at both Green Bay and Milwaukee a year ago, two of only three league setbacks suffered by Butler in 2008-09.  Green Bay (15-7, 7-3 Horizon League) is unbeaten in league play at home this season, and the Phoenix defeated #20 Wisconsin in the Resch Center in December.  The Bulldogs (16-4, 9-0 HL), who defeated Green Bay on New Year’s Eve in Indianapolis, currently have a 2 1/2 game lead over the second place Phoenix in the league race.  Butler posted its seventh and eighth consecutive wins with victories at Loyola and UIC to start the current four-game road stretch.  The Bulldogs will conclude their visit to Wisconsin with a game at Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 31.            

Butler’s current eight-game winning streak is the team’s longest this season.

ROAD TESTED:  Butler owns a league-best 7-1 record in true road games this season, including a 4-0 mark in Horizon League road games.  The Bulldogs have won four straight road games, since suffering their lone road setback at UAB on Dec. 22. 

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler climbed to No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today national poll following last week’s victories over Loyola and UIC, and the Bulldogs continue to receive votes in the Associated Press (A.P.) “Top 25.”  The Bulldogs were ranked in both polls for the first seven weeks of the season and have been ranked in the ESPN/USA Today poll for 12 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” of the two national polls each year since 2006-07.

MID-MAJOR WATCH:  Butler has moved up to second behind Gonzaga in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this week. The Bulldogs held the top spot in the CollegeInsider.com prior to their loss at UAB on Dec. 22.  Butler had been ranked first or second in the poll for eight weeks.  Green Bay is 24th in the poll.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs shot a crisp 55% from the field in the first half to build an 11-point advantage and then stepped it up with 47 points in the final 20 minutes to cap off an 84-55 victory at UIC.  Butler trailed just once in the game at 11-10, before unleashing a 12-3 scoring run to take command for good.  The Bulldogs hit 12 of 22 shots in the first half, including five of 10 from beyond the three-point arc.  The overall marksmanship was even better in the second half, with Butler connecting on 16 of its final 28 (.571) shots.  The 47 points scored in the second half were the most final period points scored by the Bulldogs this season.  And the 29-point win was Butler’s largest margin of victory for a road game since 2007, when the Bulldogs won at Cleveland State, 92-50.                  

Butler stands 9-0 in the Horizon League for the second straight year and for just the second time in school history.

EFFICIENT EFFORT:  Questions about any lingering effects of an upper respiratory infection that slowed sophomore Gordon Hayward a week earlier were answered emphatically by the 6-9 guard’s performance at UIC.  Hayward led all players in the game with 25 points in 27 minutes.  He hit 10 of 16 shots from the floor, including two of six from three-point range, and three of four from the free throw line to compile his season-high scoring total.  He added a team-high eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals in the win.  The 25 points nearly equaled his combined point total (27) for the previous three Butler games.

Gordon Hayward is averaging 18.5 points in league road games this season.

DOUBLE THREAT:  Sophomore guard Shelvin Mack helped boost Butler’s offensive effort at UIC with 15 points, second only to teammate Gordon Hayward among all players.  He also led both teams with six assists in the game.  It was the third time this year that Mack has scored in double-figures and had at least five assists in a game.  He’s second on the team in both scoring and assists, and he ranks in the “Top 10” in the league in both categories.  Mack also matched his career-high with three steals against the Flames.

PROTECTIVE CUSTODY:  The Bulldogs committed a season-low eight turnovers in their win at Loyola and then came back with just nine turnovers at UIC.  And all nine turnovers against the Flames came in the first half!  Butler played the final 20 minutes at UIC with 11 assists and no turnovers.  The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.3) in league games.  

DEEP THOUGHTS:  Less than 48 hours after hitting a season-low three three-point field goals in their one-point victory at Loyola, the Bulldogs responded with nine long-range baskets at UIC.  Butler shot 42.9% (9-21) from long-range against the Flames, after hitting a season-low 15% (3-20) at Loyola.  The Bulldogs are 36-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.

Butler has won its last 19 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.
 
CAREER LEADERS:  The Bulldogs’ win at UIC vaulted seniors Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers into the top spot on Butler’s list for career victories.  The two fourth-year players now have compiled 101 career wins during their time at Butler.  Four other players in Butler history (Joel Cornette, Darnell Archey, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore, all 2000-03) finished with 100 career wins!

SCORING LIST:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points with his first field goal in the Bulldogs’ home victory over Ohio State.  His nine points at UIC boosted his career scoring total to 1,107 points, good for 26th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Ken Pennington (1957-60) in 25th place on the all-time list by 10 points and Brandon Miller (2000-03) in 24th place by 14 points.

Matt Howard ranks second among active Horizon League players in career points.

BULLDOG BITS: 

•Butler ranks first or second in Horizon League only games in 13 different statistical categories.  The Bulldogs lead the conference games only statistics in scoring offense (73.8), scoring defense (58.7), scoring margin (+15.1), field goal percentage (.489), rebounding defense (26.3), assists (14.0) and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).

•Junior Matt Howard has averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in five previous games against Green Bay.  He’s averaged 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in two previous visits to the Resch Center.

•Matt Howard has moved into fourth place on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 407.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 95, while teammate Gordon Hayward is second with 93.  Hayward is fourth in the league in free throw percentage (.823), while Howard is ninth (.792).  Howard hit five of six free throws against Green Bay in December.

•Gordon Hayward was named to the five-player Midseason Mid-Major All-America Team by Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News.  Also named were Omar Samhan of Saint Mary’s, Artsiom Parakhouski of Radford, Kenneth Faried of Morehead State and Ryan Wittman of Cornell.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (16.1) and third in rebounding (8.2).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Gordon Hayward is averaging a team-best 16.3 points in Butler’s eight road games this season.  He’s averaged 8.5 rebounds on the road for the Bulldogs. 

•Shelvin Mack has had 19 straight games in double-figures, after opening the season with just seven points against Davidson.  Butler is 21-4 when Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 14-1 when the sophomore guard leads the team in scoring.

•Shelvin Mack has led the Bulldogs with an 17.0 scoring average during the team’s current eight-game winning streak.  Mack is shooting .516 from the field and .395 from the three-point arc during the winning streak.

•Senior Willie Veasley had 10 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four steals against Green Bay in December.  Veasley is ninth in the league in steals (1.5).

•Sophomore Ronald Nored had four assists and one turnover in 19 minutes at UIC.  Nored leads the Horizon League lead in assist/turnover ratio (2.6).

•Ronald Nored has nearly half (30) of his 66 assists on the year in Butler’s last six games.  Nored currently ranks seventh in the Horizon League in assists (3.3).

•Junior Zach Hahn has come off the bench and hit at least one three-point field goal in each of Butler’s last 10 games.  Hahn is tied for fourth in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.480) in league games.

•The Bulldogs, who hits 19 of 23 (.826) shots from the charity stripe at UIC, have climbed to 25th in the NCAA Division I in team free throw shooting (.742).