Butler Pulls Away From Valparaiso, 76-59
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Junior Shelvin Mack led a balanced attack with 16 points and Butler used a strong closing run to defeat visiting Valparaiso, 76-59, in a feature Horizon League game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year's Day. The win was Butler's sixth straight and lifted the Bulldogs to 10-4 on the season and 2-0 in league play.
Mack scored seven points in the first half, while helping Butler to a 36-25 halftime lead. He tacked on nine more points in the final 20 minutes to lead all scorers in the game. The 6-3 guard also led all players with six assists, and he added four rebounds and a steal.
The Bulldogs led by double-digits for a significant portion of the game, but Valparaiso (10-5, 2-1 HL) stormed back and cut the margin to five points, 53-48, on a three-point field goal by Jay Harris with 8:08 remaining. Harris' shot was the third of three consecutive three-point field goals by the Crusaders.
But senior Zach Hahn answered for the Bulldogs with back-to-back three-pointers and Valparaiso never got closer than eight points the rest of the way. Butler closed with a 10-2 scoring run for the final margin.
"They're certainly a team that can score in bunches and that's why they're so scary to play against," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens. "Our guys weathered a storm (in the first half), and when they cut it to five, (Zach) hit two big ones, and I thought Ron (Nored) made a big one and had a couple of nice drives and kind of bailed us out."
Nored, who scored seven points after intermission, and senior Shawn Vanzant both finished with 11 points, while freshman Khyle Marshall came off the bench with ten points. Hahn added nine, while senior Matt Howard and sophomore Andrew Smith each finished with eight.
Harris and Cory Johnson, who hit a pair of three-point field goals to close the first half, both finished with 14 points for the Crusaders, who connected on 10 three-point field goals in the contest.
Butler won't have much time to enjoy the league win. The Bulldogs will travel to Wisconsin on Sunday (Jan. 2) and face Milwaukee at the U. S. Cellular Arena on Monday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. (ET).