Junior Matt Howard scored 18 points and senior Willie Veasley added 13 points and eight rebounds to lead Butler past host Green Bay at the Resch Center on Friday, Jan. 29. The win was Butler’s ninth straight and lifted the first place Bulldogs to 17-4 on the season and 10-0 in the Horizon League.
The Bulldogs, who matched last year’s Butler team for the best Horizon League start ever, turned a close contest into a one-sided affair with red-hot shooting in the final 20 minutes. Butler hit 17 of 24 shots (.708) in the second half, while building as much as a 22-point lead over the second place Phoenix.
“I think our team did a really good job of moving the ball today,” said Howard after the game. “We did a good job of attacking their gaps and what they give up. (Our team) did a great job of getting the ball to me in spots where I could score. Overall, it had to do with us moving the ball and finding other people and making plays to get other people good shots.”
Butler finished with 19 assists on 29 baskets. Sophomore Shelvin Mack matched his career-high with eight assists, while sophomore Ronald Nored added four.
Green Bay (15-8, 7-4 HL) took advantage of early foul problems by the Bulldogs to maintain the upper hand through most of the first half. Butler leading scorer Gordon Hayward picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the game, while Howard picked up his second foul less than a minutes later. Both players spent most of the first half on the bench and wound up playing just 20 total minutes in the game.
With Hayward and Howard sidelined, junior Zach Hahn came off the bench and hit three first half three-point field goals to pace the Bulldogs. His last long-range basket gave Butler the lead for good at 31-29, and Veasley added a dunk off of a dandy lob pass to lift the Bulldogs to a four-point halftime lead.
“I just told our guys in the locker room that it was a team win,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens. “A lot of guys did a lot of good things, and we need them to tonight. We got in early foul trouble and I was really proud of the way guys played off the bench.”
Butler opened the second half with a 13-3 run to push the lead to 46-32, and the Phoenix never cut the margin below double-digits for the rest of the game.
Howard hit eight of 10 shots in the game for his team-high total, while Veasley cashed five of seven shots. Mack chipped in with 11 points. Green Bay’s Rahmon Fletcher led all scorers with 24 points.
The Bulldogs will wrap up their four-game road
stretch with a game at Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m.