Butler To Face Duke For National Title

INJURY UPDATE

The playing status of Butler junior forward Matt Howard for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship contest on Monday, April 5, will be a game-day decision.  Howard suffered a mild concussion in the second half of Butler’s 52-50 victory over Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals on Saturday (April 3).

“We are monitoring (Matt’s) symptoms, and he’ll be evaluated by our team physician on Monday,” stated Butler head athletic trainer Ryan Galloy.  “It will be a game time decision as to whether he can play on Monday night or not.”

Howard, Butler’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, played just 15 minutes in the Bulldogs’ win on Saturday (April 3).

TITLE TILT:  Butler’s record-setting season will add the biggest “first” in school history when the Bulldogs square off against #3 Duke in the 2010 NCAA National Championship game on Monday, April 5.  The 9:21 (ET) contest at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be Butler’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA title game.  Butler reached its milestone with a 52-50 victory over No. 13/12 Michigan State in the national semifinals.  It was the Bulldogs’ third consecutive win over a team ranked in the “Top 15” nationally and seeded No. 5 or higher.  Duke (34-5) reached the national championship game for the tenth time with a convincing, 78-57, victory over West Virginia in the second semifinals game.  The Blue Devils led wire-to-wire in the game, putting on a sizzling 52.7% shooting performance!  Duke will be the second No. 1 seed that Butler has faced in this year’s tournament.  The Bulldogs defeated top-seeded Syracuse, 63-59, in the West Regional semifinals.              

Butler improved to 6-2 under Brad Stevens in NCAA Tournament play.

MILESTONE WIN:  The 52-50 victory over Michigan State not only gave Butler its first trip to the national championship game, but also lifted the Bulldogs to a school- and Horizon League record 33 wins.  The previous school and league record of 30 wins was set by Butler in 2007-08, Brad Stevens’ first season as a head coach.  Butler owns the top three single season win totals in Horizon League history - 33 (2009-10), 30 (2007-08) and 29 (2006-07).

BONUS SEASON:  Butler is competing in post-season tournament play for the 12th time in 14 years.  The Bulldogs earned bids to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and this season, and to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1999, 2002 and 2006.  Butler’s post-season record since 1997 is 15-11 (11-8 NCAA, 4-3 NIT).

RECORD RUN:  Butler’s 118 wins over the past four seasons have set a school and Horizon League record for most wins in four consecutive years.  The Bulldogs also own the Horizon League’s two-year (59, 2006-08 & 2008-10) and three-year (89, 2007-10) records for wins.

The Bulldogs have won at least 26 games in four consecutive seasons.
 
LAST TIME OUT:  Sophomore Ronald Nored hit two free throws with six seconds remaining to lift Butler to a three-point advantage, and teammate Gordon Hayward rebounded a missed free throw by Michigan State’s Korey Lucious with two ticks left to give the Bulldogs a 52-50 win in the NCAA national semifinals.  Butler overcame a seven-point deficit in the first half and then held off the late-charging Spartans to advance to the NCAA title game.  Michigan State jumped to an early 14-7 lead in the game, but the Bulldogs rallied to tie the contest at halftime, 28-28.  Butler then opened the second half with a 10-5 run to take the lead for good.  The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points in the final period, but Michigan State cut the margin to 50-49 with under a minute remaining.                                             

Butler improved to 6-2 under Brad Stevens in NCAA Tournament play.

ADD ONE:  Butler stretched the nation’s longest winning streak to 25 straight games with its victory over Michigan State.  The Bulldogs have not lost since Dec. 22, when they dropped a 10-point decision at UAB.  The current streak has shattered Butler’s previous record for longest winning streak - 15 consecutive games in 1999-00.

LEAD ROLE:  Despite scoring just four points in the second half, sophomore Gordon Hayward led the Bulldogs in scoring for the third straight game with a game-high 19 points against Michigan State.  It was the 17th time he’s topped the Bulldogs in scoring this season.  He also had a team-high nine rebounds, the 21st time this year that he’s led Butler in rebounding.  

FIRST DEFENSE:  Butler held Michigan State to its second-lowest point total of the season (50).  The Bulldogs, who lead the Horizon League in team scoring defense (57.0), have held 12 of their last 13 foes below 60 points, including all five NCAA Tournament opponents.  Butler is 20-0 this season when holding its opponent below 60 points.

Butler is one of just four teams to hold its first five NCAA Tournament opponents below 60 points.

THEFT RING:  Butler’s 12 steals against Michigan State were one shy of the team’s season-high, set against Valparaiso in December and matched last weekend against Syracuse.  The Bulldogs now have 44 steals in their five NCAA Tournament games, including 33 in the past three contests against Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State.  The 12 steals in the national semifinals boosted Butler’s season total to 263, six shy of the school single season record set in 1990-91.

Butler has had 10 or more steals in nine games this season.

HANDLE WITH CARE:  The Bulldogs committed just three turnovers in the second half against Michigan State and just eight for the game.  It was the fourth time in this year’s national tournament that Butler has had 10 or fewer turnovers.  The Bulldogs had a 20-2 advantage over Michigan State in points off turnovers.

RECORD APPEARANCE:  Senior Willie Veasley, who had six points and five rebounds in Butler’s victory over Michigan State, played in his Butler-record 10th NCAA Tournament game.  Veasley is the first Butler player to see action in four NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships.

Willie Veasley has helped Butler to a school-record 118 wins in four seasons.

GRAND ACCOMPLISHMENT:  Junior Matt Howard, who became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season, boosted his career scoring total to 1,320 points in the national semifinals.  He moved into 17th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list, 22 points behind Tom Bowman (1960-63) and Thomas Jackson (1998-2002) in a tie for 15th place.  Howard also ranks in Butler’s “Top 20” for rebounding with 595 career rebounds.

BULLDOG BITS:  

•Butler was unbeaten in the months of January. February and March for the first time in school history.  The Bulldogs played their first-ever game in April on Saturday.

•Matt Howard, who became Butler’s all-time leader for free throws made in the Bulldogs’ two games in Salt Lake City, boosted his record total to 485 with two charity tosses against Michigan State.  The previous school record (477) was set by Bobby Plump, 1954-58.

•Matt Howard stands sixth on Butler’s single season list for free throws made with 173.  Teammate Gordon Hayward is tied with Billy Shepherd (1970-71) for seventh place on the single season list.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 173, while teammate Gordon Hayward is second with 171.  Hayward is fifth in the league in free throw percentage (.822), while Howard is tenth (.790).

•Gordon Hayward stands third on Butler’s all-time list for sophomore scoring with 560 points, while Shelvin Mack holds the No. 4 spot with 524 points.  Both players passed teammate Matt Howard (475, 2008-09) on the sophomore scoring list this season.  Chad Tucker (1984-85) is second on the list with 573 points.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged a team-best 14.9 points during the squad’s current 24-game winning streak.  He’s shot .493 from the field and scored 20 or more points five times during the streak.  Hayward also has topped the team in rebounding (7.8) during the streak.

•Gordon Hayward moved into seventh place on Butler’s single season rebounding chart with 297 in 36 games.  He’s seven rebounds shy of Jeff Blue (1962-63) in sixth place on the season rebounding chart.

•Sophomore Shelvin Mack became Butler’s all-time NCAA Tournament scoring leader with his 14 points against Michigan State.  Mack, who’s scored 98 points in six tournament games, passed A. J. Graves (2007 & 2008), who had 87 points in his five tournament appearances.  

•Butler is 28-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 17-1 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in nine consecutive games, the longest current streak for the Bulldogs.  He’s averaged 16.1 points over that stretch.

•Shelvin Mack, who hit two of four attempts from the three-point arc against Michigan State, is shooting .402 from three-point range during Butler’s current win streak.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored is closing in on 10th place on Butler’s single season assist chart.  His 135 assists this season are two shy of Thomas Jackson (2000-01) in the No. 10 spot on Butler’s list and five behind Mike Monserez (2003-04) and Travis Trice (1994-95) in a tie for No. 8.

•Ronald Nored had three steals against Michigan State, giving him 15 in Butler’s five NCAA Tournament games.  The Horizon League co-Defensive Player of the Year, has 66 steals on the year, eight shy of the school single season record held by Thomas Jackson (2001-02).

•Senior Avery Jukes, juniors Matt Howard, Zach Hahn and Shawn Vanzant and sophomores Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored each played set a Butler single season record for games played with 37.  Five players shared the previous mark of 36.  Howard and Mack established a new mark for games started with 37.

•Butler has won its last 23 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs are 40-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers in a game.

•The Bulldogs are ranked third in the NCAA Division I in won-lost percentage (.892).  Butler is tied with Kansas for third in the nation in total wins (33), behind Kentucky (35) and Duke (34).