Bulldogs Face Second Place Cleveland State

NEXT CHALLENGE:  Butler, having clinched its fourth consecutive Horizon League regular season championship, will face its closest league challenger when it visits Cleveland State on Saturday, Feb. 13.  The 2 p.m. (ET) game at CSU’s Wolstein Center will be televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV as the Horizon League Network Game of the Week.  Cleveland State sits in second place in the league standings with a 9-4 conference record and a 13-12 overall mark.  The Vikings won their sixth straight game on Thursday (Feb. 11) with an 80-71 decision at home over Valparaiso.  Cleveland State also has won six straight games at home and stands 10-3 overall in the Wolstein Center this season.  Butler wrapped up the Horizon League title and the right to host the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2010 Speedway Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship with a 68-57 victory at Youngstown State on Thursday.  The win was Butler’s 14th straight and lifted the Bulldogs to 22-4 overall and 15-0 in league play.                     

The Bulldogs’ 14-game win streak is the second-longest in Butler history.

ROAD TESTED:  The Bulldogs own a league-best 10-1 record in road games this season, the second-best road record in the nation!  Vermont has the nation’s most road wins with an 11-5 mark.  Butler has won seven straight road contests, and the Bulldogs are 31-6 in road games under head coach Brad Stevens.

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler climbed to No. 18 in the Associated Press (A. P.) national poll and remained at No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today “Top 25,” following wins over Detroit and Wright State last week.  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 14 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” each year since 2006-07.

TOP 20:  Butler has recorded a 20-win season for the fifth consecutive year and for the 12th time in the past 14 years.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five consecutive 20-win seasons and they’ve done it twice!  Butler holds the league record with seven straight 20-win seasons, 1996-2003.

LAST TIME OUT:  Butler overcame an eight-point deficit in the first half and pulled away with 62% shooting in the second half to post an 11-point (68-57) victory at Youngstown State.  The host Penguins hit six of 10 three-point field goals in the first 15 minutes of the game and built a 28-20 advantage in the closing minutes of the first half.  But the Bulldogs finished the first period with an 11-2 run to take a 31-30 halftime lead and then padded that margin with some crisp shooting in the second half.  Butler connected on 13 of 21 (.619) field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes, including four of seven from beyond the three-point arc.  The Bulldogs led by as many as 17 points late in the game, before the host squad scored the game’s final six points.  The win gave Butler a 7-0 record against Ohio foes this season.                              

Butler has won 17 straight Horizon League regular season games.

DOUBLE THREAT:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward  scored and rebounded.  He hit shots and he blocked shots.  And he was the most dominant player on the floor in Butler’s victory at Youngstown State.  Hayward led all players in scoring with 22 points, hitting six of 10 shots from the field, including two of five from three-point range, and eight of nine from the free throw line.  And he grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, just three fewer than the entire Youngstown State team!  He had 16 rebounds on the defensive glass, and he added two blocked shots and an assist.  It was his league-high, eighth double-double of the season and the 11th of his Butler career.  His 17 rebounds were the most by a player in the Horizon League this year, and the most by a Butler player in more than a decade!

Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in defensive rebounds (6.1).

HOT FINISH:  Senior Willie Veasley posted his third straight game in double-figures with 10 points at Youngstown State.  He hit three of five shots in the game, including two of four from beyond the three-point arc.  In Butler’s last four games, Veasley has hit 21 of 28 (75%) shots, including five of 11 (.455) from three-point range.  He has the Horizon League’s best individual shooting performance this season with a nine of nine effort in the Bulldogs’ home victory over Loyola on Monday (Feb. 8).

Willie Veasley ranks third in the Horizon League in field goal pct. (.530).

STREAKING BULLDOGS:  Butler’s current 14-game winning streak is tied (with Murray State) for the second-longest active winning streak in the NCAA Division I.  Siena owns the nation’s longest winning streak with 15 consecutive wins (prior to a game at Niagara on Friday, Feb. 12).  Butler and Siena will meet in a BracketBusters game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Feb. 20.  Butler’s school record is 15 straight wins (1999-00).

QUICK START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie for fifth place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 3 Seasons.  Stevens picked up his 78th career win at Youngstown State, matching Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois for fifth place on the all-time list.  The Bulldogs’ coach is two wins shy of Bill Guthridge (North Carolina) and Everett Case (North Carolina State) in third place.  Mark Fox (Nevada) and Mark Few (Gonzaga) share the top spot with 81 wins apiece in three seasons.  Stevens also stands sixth in Division I in winning percentage (.846) for three seasons.

Brad Stevens reached 75 wins faster than any coach in Butler history.   

SHORT LIST:  Brad Stevens is the first basketball coach in Butler history to record a 20-win campaign in each of his first three seasons at the helm.  He’s the only Butler coach to have a 30-win season.

GRAND EFFORT:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.  His 11 points at Youngstown State boosted his career scoring total to 1,190 points, good for 22nd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Tim McRoberts (1980-84) in 21st place by 18 points.

BULLDOG BITS: 

•The Bulldogs are just the second team in Horizon League history to boast a 15-0 record.  Green Bay was 16-0 in 1995-96.

•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 nine or more three-pointers in a game.

•Junior Matt Howard has averaged 12.6 points in seven previous games against Cleveland State.  He scored 16 points against the Vikings in the Wolstein Center as a freshman.

•Matt Howard is shooting .594 (38-64) over Butler’s last nine games.  He’s averaged 13.3 points over that stretch.

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 435.  He’s 27 free throws shy of third place.

•Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 127, while teammate Matt Howard is second with 121.  Hayward is fourth in the league in free throw percentage (.841), while Howard is ninth (.783).

•Gordon Hayward is the 11th Butler sophomore all-time to score 400 points.  He’s 10th all-time among Butler’s sophomore scorers with 414 points.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged 16.9 points on the road this season.  He scored 20 or more points each in three of Butler’s last four road contests.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.9) 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, hampered by an upper respiratory infection, scored just eight points against Cleveland State last month.

•Shelvin Mack has had just one double-figures scoring performance in Butler’s last four games.  Mack had scored in double-figures in 21 consecutive games, prior to notching eight points against Detroit. 

•Butler is 21-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 14-1 when the sophomore guard leads the team in scoring.

•Senior Willie Veasley has had two of his top three career scoring performances against Cleveland State.  He had 16 points against the Vikings in last year’s final regular season game and again earlier this season.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored, who had four assists and three turnovers against Youngstown State, continues to lead the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.1).

•Ronald Nored had his first double-figures scoring performance of the season with 11 points against Cleveland State last month at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Junior Zach Hahn, who hit two of four three-point field goal attempts against Youngstown State, ranks second in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.500) in league games only.

•The Bulldogs hit a season-low 10 three-point field goal attempts against Cleveland State last month.