ROAD WORK: Butler will close out a key
two-game Horizon League road trip when it visits Wright State on
Sunday, Jan. 16, evening. The game at Wright State’s
Nutter Center will start at 7 p.m (ET) and will be televised in
Indianapolis on WNDY-TV. Butler and Wright State began the
weekend in a four-way tie with Valparaiso and Detroit for first
place in the Horizon League, and all four were in action against
each other on Friday. The Bulldogs (13-5, 5-1 HL) held serve
in a showdown at Detroit, 87-64, while Wright State (11-6, 4-2 HL)
fell at home to Valparaiso, 71-60. The weekend showdown
continues on Sunday with Valparaiso (13-5, 5-1 HL) visiting Detroit
(10-8, 4-2 HL) at the same time Butler and Wright State are
playing. The Bulldogs have won three straight Horizon League
games and nine of 10 games overall, including a championship at the
Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. Wright State had won four
straight games and eight of nine contests prior to Friday’s
loss to Valparaiso. The Bulldogs and Wright State will meet
again at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Feb.
Butler is 25-5 in Horizon League road games under head coach Brad Stevens.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs broke a 12-12 tie and took control of the game with a 16-2 scoring run midway through the first half of Friday’s nationally-televised (ESPNU) game at Detroit. Sophomore Andrew Smith sparked the decisive run with six consecutive points and freshman Khyle Marshall closed the stretch with three straight points to give Butler a 28-14 lead. The Bulldogs increased the lead to 22, 42-20, by halftime and led by as many as 30 points late in the second half. Five Butler players scored in double-figures in the win, led by senior Matt Howard with 17. The 23-point final difference (87-64) was Detroit’s biggest margin of defeat this season.
INCREASED PRODUCTION: The Bulldogs topped 80 points for the second straight game and for the seventh time this season with the win at Detroit. A year ago, Butler had just four 80-points scoring performances. Only one other Butler team (2007-08) in the past decade had as many as six 80-points scoring performances.
Butler leads the Horizon League in team scoring offense (74.6).
WINTER HEAT: Butler shot a season-best 56.9% (29-51) from the field, including a season-best 58.8% (10-17) from beyond the three-point arc in the victory over Detroit on Friday. The Bulldogs hit 16 of 30 shots (.533), including five of 11 (.455) from long range, while building a 22-point halftime lead and then turned in an even hotter shooting performance in the second half. The Bulldogs connected on 13 of 21 (.619) shots in the final 20 minutes and made their first five three-point field goal attempts before recording their lone second half, long-range miss. The shooting performance at Detroit was Butler’s best since last February, when the Bulldogs connected on 27 of 40 (.675) shots in a victory over Wright State at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler is shooting .481 against Horizon League foes this season.
SENIOR MOMENTS: Butler’s five current seniors became just the second four-year class at Butler to record four consecutive victories at Detroit’s Calihan Hall. Last year’s duo of Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers was the first. This year’s senior class of Matt Howard, Zach Hahn, Shawn Vanzant, Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin also picked up their 102nd career victory on Friday. That’s the second-most career wins by a four-year class in Butler men’s basketball history, trailing the 118 career wins of Veasley and Rodgers.
SHARP-SHOOTER: Senior Matt Howard led Butler’s season-best outside attack at Detroit with a career-high five three-point field goals. The 6-8 Butler forward hit three of four long-range shots in the first half and then connected on both of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc in the final period. It was the best three-point shooting performance by a Butler player this season. Howard, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points, did not have a two-point field goal for only the second time in his Butler career (the first time was against Virginia Tech at the Great Alaska Shootout in his fifth collegiate game).
Matt Howard is leading the Horizon League in 3-point FG% (.489).
BIG PERFORMANCE: Sophomore Andrew Smith led both teams in scoring in the first half at Detroit with 10 points. The 6-11 center hit five of seven shots in the first 20 minutes, while also leading both teams with four rebounds. Smith finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. The 15 points were the second-highest total of his Butler career, trailing only the 22 points he scored one week earlier in the Bulldogs’ victory over Cleveland State. Smith has had his top three career scoring performances in Butler’s last six games.
CAREER NIGHT: Freshman Khyle Marshall came off the bench at Detroit with career-highs of 16 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes. Marshall, a 6-7 forward from Davie, Fla., hit seven of the 10 shots he attempted in the victory, including four of five in the second half. Marshall has three double-figures scoring performances in Butler’s last five games and four for his collegiate career.
HELPING HAND: The Bulldogs, led by juniors Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack, compiled a season-high 20 assists on their 29 field goals at Detroit. Nored led the way with a season-high and game-high seven assists, while Mack added five assists. Six different Butler players recorded an assist in the victory.
FREE TIME: Butler hit 19 of 25 (.760) free throw attempts at Detroit, including 14 of 17 (.824) in the second half. It was the 10th time this season that the Bulldogs have shot 75% or better from the free throw line and the fourth time in the last five games. Butler is 12-2 this season when out-scoring its opponent at the free throw line.
Butler leads the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.753).
FAST LANE: Head coach Brad Stevens picked up his 100th career win in his 120th game with Butler’s victory over Cleveland State on Jan. 7. Only five coaches in NCAA men’s basketball history reached 100 career victories faster than the Butler coach, and none did it in the last three decades. Doc Meanwell of Wisconsin reached the milestone in his 109th game in 1918, Buck Freeman of St. John’s did it in his 110th game in 1932, and Adolph Rupp of Kentucky made it in his 116th game in 1936. Jerry Tarkanian at Long Beach State (1973) and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (1980) both reached career victory No. 100 in their 117th game. Stevens is tied for sixth on the NCAA list of “Fastest to 100 Wins” with Fred Taylor of Ohio State (1963), Everett Case of North Carolina State (1950) and Charles Osborn of Bradley (1961). Butler’s coach also is tied for fifth on the list of “Fastest To 50 Wins.” He recorded his 50th career victory in his 56th game in 2009.
•Senior Matt Howard has scored in 122 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career. He has 89 career double-figures scoring performances.
•Matt Howard stands seventh on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,648 career points. He’s fifth on Butler’s all-time rebounding chart with 738 career rebounds, four behind Lynn Mitchem (1979-83) in fourth place.
•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring (17.6) and third rebounding (7.7).
•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he ranks second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.851).
•Matt Howard is the lone player in the Horizon League to rank among the league’s “Top 10” players in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage.
•Matt Howard has averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in eight career games against Wright State, but he’s never scored more than 10 points in the Nutter Center.
•Matt Howard is shooting .527 from the field, .625 from the three-point arc and .906 from the free throw line against Horizon League foes this season.
•Matt Howard was named Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December. The two-time Academic All-American averaged 19.3 points last month.
•Shelvin Mack moved into 23rd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,178 career points. He’s 30 points behind Tim McRoberts (1980-84) in the No. 22 spot on Butler’s all-time chart.
•Shelvin Mack has made 18 of 19 free throws (.947) against Horizon League foes.
•Shelvin Mack, who hit a single three-point field goal at Detroit, has moved into 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals. He’s connected on 165 career three-pointers, nine behind Jermaine Guice (1990-94) in ninth place.
•Shelvin Mack is 10th on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 289 career assists, 16 behind Ohio State assistant coach Brandon Miller (2000-03) in the No. 9 spot.
•Junior Shelvin Mack’s 28 points against Youngstown State were the most by a Butler player since Feb. 15, 2009, when Matt Howard scored 30 against Loyola.
•The Bulldogs are 35-6 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 22-3 when he leads the team in scoring.
•Junior Ronald Nored has had four double-figures scoring performances in Butler’s last eight games.
•Ronald Nored stands second in the Horizon League in steals against conference foes. Nored has had six steals in Butler’s last two games and is averaging 2.4 steals against league foes.
•Sophomore Andrew Smith has connected on 39 of his last 52 (.750) field goal attempts, including 28 of his last 36. Smith leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.640).
•Andrew Smith had career-highs of one assist, two blocked shots and two steals at Detroit.
•Senior Zach Hahn scored a career-high 17 points against Wright State at the Nutter Center as a sophomore in 2008-09. Hahn has 13 career double-figures scoring performances and four have come against the Raiders.
•Senior guard Shawn Vanzant matched his season scoring-high with 14 points at Detroit. It was his first double-figures scoring performance as a starter this season.
•Shawn Vanzant has had just two turnovers as a starter in the last three games.
•Freshman Khyle Marshall has averaged 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s past five games. He’s had three double-figures scoring performances over that stretch.
•Butler has won 25 of its last 26 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.
•Butler has won its last 28 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals. The Bulldogs have hit nine or more three-pointers five times this season.
•The Bulldogs are 45-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.