HOME RUN: Butler will close an already
successful homestand when Detroit comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a
nationally-televised game on Saturday, Feb. 12. The contest
between the two Horizon League foes will start at 8 p.m. (ET) and
will be televised on ESPN2. The Bulldogs picked up their
third consecutive win overall and their second straight win at home
with a 71-63 decision over Wright State on Thursday (Feb.
10). That victory, which came three days after the Bulldogs
began their current homestand with a win over UIC and five days
after the team’s win at Cleveland State, lifted Butler to
17-9 on the season and 9-5 in the Horizon League.
Detroit (14-13, 8-7 HL) had a three-game winning streak snapped
with an 84-72 loss at Valparaiso on Thursday. Butler and
Detroit are meeting for the second time this season. The
Bulldogs won at Detroit last month,
Butler is 54-5 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
HOME IMPROVEMENT: Butler improved to 10-2 at Hinkle Fieldhouse with its victory over Wright State. It was Butler’s sixth Horizon League victory at home in seven games this season. The Bulldogs, who were 15-0 at home a year ago, have won 25 of their last 27 home contests, and Butler stands 150-19 in Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler has won at least 10 home games in 16 consecutive seasons.
Butler is 70-12 against Horizon League foes at home in the past decade.
RACE READY: With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Horizon League is locked in the most hotly contested race in recent annals. Half of the league’s 10 teams are within two games of the lead! Valparaiso continues to hold the top spot with a 9-3 record, while former league-leader Cleveland State is second at 10-4. Wright State (10-5), defending champion Butler (9-5) and Milwaukee (9-5) all are two games back in the loss column. The top two teams in the final regular season standings get a bye to the semfinals of the league tournament.
Butler is 4-2 against the top three teams in the Horizon League standings.
LAST TIME OUT: Playing without leading scorer and rebounder Matt Howard, Butler went to a four-guard lineup and wound up shooting 57% (26-46), while handing visiting Wright State a 71-63 setback. The Bulldogs grabbed a 39-34 halftime lead behind a sizzling 73% shooting performance and then never trailed in the final 20 minutes. Wright State, riding a three-game winning streak, did close to within two points, 47-45, midway through the second half, but the Bulldogs answered with an 11-4 run that boosted the lead to nine points, 58-49. The win gave Butler a season-split with the Raiders and kept the Bulldogs within two games in the loss column of league-leading Valparaiso.
MISSING MAN: Senior Matt Howard sat out the Valparaiso game after suffering a cut above his right eye and a mild concussion in Butler’s victory over UIC earlier in the week. It was the first game he’s missed in his stellar Butler career. Howard, who leads the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding, will continue to be evaluated by Butler’s medical staff to determine his availability for Saturday’s game with Detroit.
Matt Howard had scored in 129 consecutive Butler games.
SHARP SHOOTING: Butler has had back-to-back 50% shooting performances in the first two games of the current homestand. The Bulldogs hit 28 of 55 (.509) shots in their win over UIC and then connected on 26 of 46 (.565) in the victory over Wright State. In the two games, Butler shot .618 (42-68) from inside the three-point arc.
SHORT SHIFT: For the first time in the head coaching tenure of Butler’s Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs opened a game with a four-guard lineup. With 6-8 Matt Howard sidelined, Stevens went to a lineup that included 6-0 Ronald Nored, 6-0 Shawn Vanzant, 6-3 Shelvin Mack, 6-4 Chase Stigall and 6-11 Andrew Smith. And the first player off the bench was 6-1 Zach Hahn! Butler’s guards combined for 53 of Butler’s 71 points against Wright State.
SCORING RUN: Junior Shelvin Mack posted his tenth consecutive double-figures scoring performance with his game-high, 20-point effort against Wright State. It was his sixth 20-point scoring performance this season and the third time in the last four games that he’s led the Bulldogs in scoring. During the Bulldogs’ past 10 games, the 6-3 guard has averaged 16.3 points and led the Bulldogs in scoring five times. He’s averaged 20.4 points in Butler’s last five home contests and topped the Bulldogs in scoring in four of those games.
Shelvin Mack has averaged 16.8 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
INSIDE APPROACH: Sophomore Andrew Smith posted his third double-figures scoring performance in four games with 15 points against Wright State. The 6-11 forward hit all six shots that he attempted, and he matched the second-highest point total of his young career. Smith also led the Bulldogs with six rebounds, and he matched his career-high with a pair of steals. He scored nine of his points in the first half, helping Butler to a five-point halftime lead. Smith has averaged 11.8 points in Butler’s last four outings.
POINT LEADERS: Butler continues to lead the Horizon League in team scoring offense with a 74.0 points per game average, just a tenth of a point better than second place Detroit (73.9). The Bulldogs have scored 80 or more points in four of their last 10 games and in nine total games this season. Only one other Butler team (2007-08) in the past decade has had as many as six 80-point games, and no Butler team since 1995 has had as many as nine.
•Matt Howard has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented for notable achievement in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
•Matt Howard was named to the five-player Capital One Academic All-District V Team for the third consecutive year. Howard is a two-time Academic All-American.
•Matt Howard stands in fifth place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,759 career points. He’s third on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 793 career rebounds.
•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring (17.1) and third rebounding (7.8).
•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he ranks 10th in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.805).
•Matt Howard is the lone player in the Horizon League to rank among the league’s “Top 10” players in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point FG%.
•Matt Howard has averaged 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in seven career games against Detroit. He’s scored in double-figures in his last three meetings with the Titans.
•Matt Howard has averaged 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds at home this season.
•Matt Howard, who hit a career-best five of six three-point field goals against Detroit last month, is second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.459). Howard has hit 18 of his last 36 (.500) shots from the 3-point arc.
•Junior Shelvin Mack stands in 19th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,303 career points. He’s eight points behind Ted Guzek (1954-58) in the No. 18 spot on the Bulldogs’ all-time chart.
•Shelvin Mack has moved ahead of Associate Head Coach Matthew Graves for eighth place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals with 177. Graves stands ninth with 175.
•Shelvin Mack has taken over sixth place on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 320 career assists. Avery Sheets, 2002-06, is fifth on the all-time list with 323 assists.
•Shelvin Mark ranks fifth in the Horizon League in assists (3.6).
•Junior Ronald Nored returned to Butler’s starting lineup for the first time since the Youngstown State game, when needed five stitches to close a cut on his left hand. Nored responded to his start with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals against Wright State.
•Ronald Nored has moved into 11th place on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 283 career assists.
•Senior Shawn Vanzant had his highest scoring performance this season and the second-highest of his Butler career with 15 points against Wright State. Vanzant matched his career-high with six field goals in the win.
•Shawn Vanzant had three assists and no turnovers against Wright State. In Butler’s last five games, the 6-0 guard has had 11 assists and just three turnovers.
•Sophomore Andrew Smith has connected on 72 of his last 101 (.713) field goal attempts. Smith leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.652).
•Andrew Smith is shooting .707 (58-82) against Horizon League foes.
•Andrew Smith is averaging 10.4 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season. Smith is shooting .762 (48-63) at home.
•Senior Zach Hahn has hit 19 of his last 38 (.500) three-point field goal attempts.
•Butler hit 12 of 15 (.800) shots from the charity stripe against Wright State. The Bulldogs are second in the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.734).
•The Bulldogs attempted a season-low 46 shots against Wright State.
•The Bulldogs are 45-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers. Butler hit 10 three-pointers at Detroit last month.
•Butler has won 25 of its last 26 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.
Photos by John Fetcho