Bulldogs Fall To #16 Minnesota At 76 Classic

Butler committed a season-high 21 turnovers and shot just 33% for the game, while falling to #16 Minnesota, 82-73, in the opening round of the 2009 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 26.  The loss was the first this season for the No. 10/12 ranked Bulldogs.

Minnesota’s Blake Hoffarber hit a three-point field goal with 1:32 left in the first half to break a 27-27 tie and spark a 7-1 run by the Gophers in the final minute and a half of the first period.  Butler was left playing catch-up for the rest of the game.

The Bulldogs committed an uncharacteristic nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes.  Compounding the Bulldogs’ plight was 30% shooting from the field, including 27% from the three-point arc.

“Obviously we didn’t play as well as we would have liked to,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  “But give credit to Minnesota.  They’re an outstanding team, an incredibly deep team.  Forty-six points off the bench speaks for itself.”

Butler did claw back to tie the game at 38-38 on a lay-up by junior Matt Howard with 14:20 left in the contest, but Minnesota (4-0) responded with a 9-1 run to go back on top for good.  The Gophers then held off Butler’s comeback attempts by shooting 59% from the field in the final 20 minutes!  Minnesota hit six of nine (67%) three-point field goal attempts in the second half and nine of 19 for the game.

Howard, who hit a career-high 15 of 18 from the free throw line, led the Bulldogs with 23 points, while sophomore Shelvin Mack added 20.  Sophomore Gordon Hayward chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Damian Johnson topped Minnesota with 18 points, while Colton Iverson came off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds.  Minnesota's bench out-scored Butler's reserves, 46-8.

The Bulldogs hit just 16 of 48 shots in the game, including just five of 23 (.217) from the three-point arc.  Butler committed 12 turnovers in the second half.  The 21 turnovers in the game were the most by Butler in two-plus seasons under Stevens.

Butler will be back in action on Friday at 8:30 p.m. (PT, 11:30 p.m. in Indianapolis) against the loser of the UCLA/Portland game.  Portland had a 20-point lead in the game early in the second half.