January 30, 2010

Bulldogs Close Road Stretch At Milwaukee

ROAD WORK:  Butler will play its second game in less than 48 hours and wrap up its current four-game road stretch when it visits Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 31.  The game at U. S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee will tip at 1 p.m. (CT, 2 p.m. in Indianapolis).  The Bulldogs (17-4) have won the first three games of the road stretch, including a nationally-televised decision at Green Bay, 75-57, on Friday (Jan. 29).  That victory extended Butler’s current winning streak to nine in a row and lifted the No. 18-ranked Bulldogs to 10-0 in the Horizon League for the second straight year and for the second time in school history.  No Butler team has ever reached 11-0 in Horizon League play.  Milwaukee (13-9) improved to 5-5 in league action with an 85-82 victory over Valparaiso on Friday.  It was the Panthers’ second straight win in U. S. Cellular Arena and seventh home win of the season.  Milwaukee defeated the Bulldogs in U. S. Cellular Arena a year ago.  Butler began 2010 with a victory at home over Milwaukee, and a second victory over the Panthers would give the Bulldogs an unbeaten record in January for the second consecutive year.             

Butler’s current nine-game winning streak matches the 10th-longest in school history.

TRAVEL TESTED:  Butler owns a league-best 8-1 record in true road games this season, including a 5-0 mark in Horizon League road games.  The Bulldogs have won five 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 had been ranked in 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.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs exploded for 42 points in the second half and turned a narrow halftime advantage into an 18-point win at Green Bay.  Paced by the hot shooting of junior Matt Howard, Butler stretched a 33-29 halftime lead to 46-32 less than five minutes into the final period.  The Bulldogs shot at better than a 70% clip through the final 20 minutes and built the lead to as many as 22 points.  Howard hit seven of eight shots in the second half and finished with a team-high 18 points, while senior Willie Veasley chipped in with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.  Sophomore Shelvin Mack, who hit four of six second half shots, added 11 points.  The 75-57 final was Butler’s second-largest margin of victory in eight trips to the Resch Center.                  

Butler snapped Green Bay’s steak of 16 straight Horizon League wins in the Resch Center.

TEAM EFFORT:  Less than three minutes into the first half of game at Green Bay, Butler scoring leader Gordon Hayward  picked up his second foul and went to the sidelines.  Four minutes later, reigning league Player of the Year Matt Howard followed him to the bench with his second foul.  Both played just six minutes in the first half, but the Bulldogs rallied behind reserves Zach Hahn, Shawn Vanzant, Garrett Butcher and Avery Jukes to overcome an early four-point deficit and take a four-point halftime lead.  Hayward and Howard returned in the second half to help the Bulldogs pull away from the host squad.  Hahn led Butler’s reserves with nine points, all in the first half, and Butler picked up 20 total bench points in the win.

SENIOR MOMENT:  Forward Willie Veasley hit five of seven shots from the field and two of three from the three-point arc, while compiling 13 points at Green Bay.  It was his ninth double-figures scoring performance in Butler’s last 12 games.  The 6-3 senior also led all players in the game with eight rebounds, his second-highest total this season.

Willie Veasley is shooting .667 (32-48) over Butler’s last seven games.

LOOKING LONG:  Five different players contributed to Butler’s eight three-point field goals at Green Bay.  It was the tenth time this season that the Bulldogs have hit at least eight three-pointers in a game, and Butler is 9-1 in those contests.  Butler is 5-0 this season when hitting more than eight three-point field goals, and 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.

TIME LIMIT:  Butler scoring leader Gordon Hayward, hampered by early foul troubles, played a season-low 20 minutes at Green Bay and managed just nine points and a season-low two rebounds in the Butler win.  Just one game earlier, Hayward had posted a season-high 25 points and eight rebounds at UIC.  Earlier this month, he had 16 points and 10 rebounds in Butler’s victory over Milwaukee at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  
  
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 102 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 18 points at Green Bay boosted his career scoring total to 1,125 points, good for 24th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Tom Orner (1975-79) in 23rd place on the all-time list by nine points and Chris Miskel (1992-96) in 22nd place by 45 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 14 different statistical categories.  The Bulldogs lead the conference games only statistics in scoring offense (73.9), scoring defense (58.5), scoring margin (+15.4), field goal percentage (.495), rebounding defense (26.4), assists (14.5) and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).

•Junior Matt Howard has just two double-figures scoring performances in five previous games against Milwaukee.  He’s averaged 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in the five previous meetings with the Panthers..

•Matt Howard is shooting .613 (19-31) over Butler’s last four games.

•Matt Howard’s dunk over Randy Berry at Green Bay was the No. 9 “Play of the Day” on ESPN SportsCenter on Friday (Jan. 29).

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 409.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 97, while teammate Gordon Hayward is second with 93.  Hayward is fourth in the league in free throw percentage (.823), while Howard is 10th (.782).

•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 (15.7) and third in rebounding (7.9).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Shelvin Mack has had 20 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 16.3 scoring average during the team’s current nine-game winning streak.  Mack is shooting .500 (54-108) from the field during the winning streak.

•Shelvin Mack matched his career-high with eight assists at Green Bay.  The 6-3 guard has moved into seventh place in the league in assists (3.5).

•Sophomore Ronald Nored had four assists and two turnovers in 26 minutes at Green Bay.  Nored leads the Horizon League lead in assist/turnover ratio (2.6).

•Ronald Nored has nearly half (34) of his 70 assists on the year in Butler’s last seven games.  Nored currently ranks eighth 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 11 games.  Hahn is tied for third in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.500) in league games.

•Junior Shawn Vanzant has had the top two scoring performances of his Butler career against Milwaukee - 20 points a year ago and 12 earlier this year, both in Indianapolis.