Bulldogs Begin Homestand Against Detroit

BACK HOME:  Butler, coming off a successful four-game road stretch, will play five of its next seven games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, beginning with a key Horizon League test against Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 4.  The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV.  Butler (18-4) and Detroit (14-8, 7-4 HL) are meeting for the second in a month.  The Bulldogs squeaked out a 64-62 decision in overtime in the first meeting at Detroit’s Calihan Hall on Jan. 10, in what was then a first place showdown.  The Titans are currently tied with Wright State for second place in the league, both trailing the Bulldogs.  Butler won all four games on its recent road stretch, including back-to-back victories at Green Bay and Milwaukee last week.  The 75-66 win at Milwaukee stretched Butler’s Horizon League record to 11-0 for the first time in school history.  Butler’s homestand will continue with games against Wright State (Feb. 6) and Loyola (Feb. 8).               

Butler’s 10-game winning streak matches the sixth-longest in school history.

HOME RULE:  The Bulldogs, 15-2 at home a year ago, are 8-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  Butler has been successful in 65 of its last 71 games at home, including 29 of the last 31 Horizon League contests.  The Bulldogs posted a 10-year (2000-09) record of 125-17 (.880) on their homecourt.

The Bulldogs are 37-3 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens. 

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler climbed to No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today national poll following last week’s road victories over Green Bay and Milwaukee, and the Bulldogs re-entered the Associated Press (A.P.) “Top 25” at No. 23.  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 13 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” of the two national polls each year since 2006-07.

MID-MAJOR WATCH:  Butler, riding the nation’s third-longest winning streak, has returned to the top spot in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this week. The Bulldogs hold down the top spot ahead of Northern Iowa and Gonzaga.  Butler was ranked first or second in the poll for the first eight weeks of the season.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs hit 20 free throws in the final 20 minutes and slipped past Milwaukee, 73-66, to wrap up a four-game road stretch.  Butler trailed by a point, 35-34, at halftime, but eventually took the lead for good at 56-55 on a lay-up by Ronald Nored with 8:23 remaining.  The Bulldogs held onto the lead at the free throw line, where they scored 11 of their final 17 points.  Sophomore Gordon Hayward led all players in scoring with 25 points, including 13 of 16 from the charity stripe.  The Bulldogs wound up out-scoring host Milwaukee, 27-16, at the free throw line.  The win at Milwaukee came less than 48 hours after Butler had beaten second place Green Bay, 75-57, behind the 18-point performance of forward Matt Howard, and completed a four-game road sweep for the Bulldogs.                    

Butler was unbeaten (9-0) during the month of January for the second straight year.

STEPPING UP:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward  scored just two points in the first 15 minutes of Butler’s game at Milwaukee.  But with the game on the line and three teammates in foul trouble, he took over and tallied 23 points in the final 25 minutes.  The 6-9 guard scored 17 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs overcome a seven-point deficit and record their 18th win for the fifth consecutive season.  He matched his career-high with 13 free throws made, while attempting a career-high 16 charity tosses.  He also had six rebounds, one assist and a game-high three steals.  And he helped limit Milwaukee’s scoring leader Anthony Hill to just two points in the final 15 minutes of the game, after three Butler post defenders had fouled out while guarding the Panther forward.  Hayward’s 25 points at Milwaukee matched his season-high and the second-highest total of his Butler career.

Gordon Hayward is averaging a team-best 15.6 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

ROLE CHANGE:  Point-guard Ronald Nored, who has more assists than field goals on the season, found himself taking on a scoring role at Milwaukee.  The 6-0 sophomore hit a career-high five of seven shots against the Panthers and tallied a career-high 13 points in the win.  It was just his second double-figures scoring performance this season!  Nored also had four rebounds and a team-high three assists in the game.

Ronald Nored is third in the Horizon League in assists (3.9) against league foes.

NEW YEAR:  Sophomore Shelvin Mack, who tallied 11 points at Green Bay and 13 at Milwaukee, led the Bulldogs in scoring during January.  The 6-3 guard averaged 16.2 points in Butler’s nine games during the first month of the year, and he scored in double-figures in all nine.  Mack began the new year with a career-high 25 points in Butler’s home win over Milwaukee, and he topped 20 points in two other contests.  He shot .486 (53-109) from the field and .774 (24-31) from the free throw line during the first month of 2010.

Shelvin Mack leads the Bulldogs in scoring in league games (15.5).

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 11 points at Milwaukee boosted his career scoring total to 1,136 points, good for 23rd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Chris Miskel (1992-96) in 22nd place by 34 points.

BRACKETBUSTER:  For the fourth straight year, Butler will play one of the feature games in the ESPN BracketBusters weekend series.  The Bulldogs will host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leader Siena at 11 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 20, in a contest that will be nationally-televised on ESPN2.  Siena entered the first week of February with a 19-4 record and 13 consecutive victories, the nation’s longest active winning streak!  Butler’s previous nationally-televised BracketBusters games were against Southern Illinois (2007), Drake (2008) and Davidson (2009).

BULLDOG BITS: 

•The Bulldogs hit a season-low two three-point field goals at Milwaukee, less than 48 hours after connecting on eight three-pointers in a win at Green Bay.

•Butler has won its last 19 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs are 36-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-pointers in a game.

•Junior Matt Howard has three double-figures scoring performances in five previous games against Detroit.  He’s averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in the five meetings with the Titans.

•Matt Howard is shooting .611 (22-36) over Butler’s last five games.  He’s hit at a .540 (34-63) clip during the Bulldogs’ 10-game winning streak.

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 414.

•Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 106, while teammate Matt Howard is second with 102.  Hayward is fourth in the league in free throw percentage (.822), while Howard is ninth (.791).

•Gordon Hayward has shot .556 (40-72) from the field and .842 (32-38) from the free throw line in eight games in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  He’s hit 13 of 29 (.448) attempts from beyond the three-point arc.  Hayward has shot .533 (49-92) from the field during the Bulldogs’ 10-game winning streak.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (16.1) and third in rebounding (7.8).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Shelvin Mack has had 21 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 a 16.0 scoring average during the team’s current 10-game winning streak.

•Shelvin Mack, who matched his career-high with eight assists at Green Bay, stands seventh in the league in assists (3.4).

•Sophomore Ronald Nored had seven assists and two turnovers on Butler’s two-game trip to Wisconsin.  Nored leads the Horizon League and ranks 20th in the NCAA Division I lead in assist/turnover ratio (2.7).

•Ronald Nored has more than half (37) of his 73 assists on the year in Butler’s last eight games.  Nored currently ranks eighth in the Horizon League in assists (3.3).

•Senior Willie Veasley is averaging 12.4 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  He had 13 points against Youngstown State and 16 against Cleveland State in his last two games in the Fieldhouse.

•Willie Veasley is third in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.558) in games against conference foes.  Veasley shot .556 (35-63) during January.