February 17, 2011

Bulldogs Close Road Slate At UIC

ROAD CLOSING:  Butler will close out its 2010-11 regular season road slate and try to gain ground in a tough Horizon League race when it visits UIC on Saturday, Feb. 19.  The game at the UIC Pavilion is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (CT, 2 p.m. in Indianapolis) tip and will be televised on WNDY 23.  The two league foes will be meeting for the second time in two weeks, with the Bulldogs taking the first meeting at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 72-65, on Feb. 7.  Butler is riding a five-game winning streak and is currently tied with Milwaukee for third place in the league standings, a half game behind second place Valparaiso and a game behind league-leading Cleveland State.  The Bulldogs improved to 19-9 on the season and 11-5 in league play with a 64-62 victory at Green Bay on Tuesday (Feb. 15).  UIC (7-21, 2-14 HL) fell at home in overtime to Loyola, 67-66, in its last outing on Wednesday (Feb. 16).                              

WARMING TREND:  Butler has won its last five games, after losing three straight contests for the first time under head coach Brad Stevens.  The five-game winning streak is Butler’s second-longest of the season, trailing the team’s six-game winning streak in December and early January.  The Bulldogs have out-scored their last five opponents by 44 points (+8.8), while shooting .470 from the field and .770 from the free throw line.

Butler has had nine win streaks of at least five games under Brad Stevens.

LEAGUE SPOTLIGHT:  Butler’s visit to UIC will be the lone contest impacting the hottest Horizon League race in recent annals.  The remaining eight league teams all will be participating in non-league, BracketBusters’ games.  Cleveland State has climbed back on top of the league standings with a 12-4 record, while Valparaiso sits a half game back at 11-4.  Butler and Milwaukee are tied for third at 11-5.  The top two teams in the final regular season standings get a bye to the semifinals of the league tournament, which will be held at the home site of the regular season champ.

Butler is 3-1 against the top two teams in the Horizon League standings.

LAST TIME OUT:  Senior Matt Howard turned in the biggest play of the game when he drove the lane for a slam dunk with 0:01.8 remaining to lift Butler to a 64-62 victory at Green Bay on Tuesday (Feb. 15).  Howard’s dramatic play rescued the Bulldogs, who had surrendered a five-point lead in the final two minutes.  Butler never trailed after taking a 10-8 lead four-and-a-half minutes into the game, but the two teams were never separated by more than eight points.  The Bulldogs were on top, 62-57, with 1:59 left, but a three-point field goal by Green Bay’s Steve Baker and a pair of free throws by 7-0 center Alec Brown tied the game at 62-62 with 0:24 left.  Butler had the final possession and, following a time-out with 0:04 left, Howard took an inbounds pass at the top of the key and drove the lane for the game-winning shot.   

CLUTCH PERFORMANCE:  Senior Matt Howard made sure the Bulldogs would prevail at Green Bay, and his effort started well before and after his game-winning dunk.  The 6-8 Butler forward led all players in scoring with 22 points, and he shared Butler’s rebounding lead with eight in 38 minutes of action.  He sealed the game’s outcome, following his dunk in the closing seconds, by intercepting Green Bay’s final pass halfcourt pass.  Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring in 14 games this season, and he’s had the team’s top rebounding total in 19 contests.

Matt Howard has 22 career games of 20 or more points.  

HALF DONE:  Butler scoring and rebounding leader Matt Howard only played one half against UIC two weeks ago.  The 6-8 forward suffered a blow to the head right before halftime and left the court covered in blood.  He need eight stitches to close a wound above his right eye, and he did not return to the court in the second half.  Howard, who had nine points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes against the Flames, sat out Butler’s next game against Wright State with a mild concussion.  It was the first game he missed during his Butler career.

Matt Howard is second all-time in games played at Butler with 131.

SCORING STREAK:  Junior Shelvin Mack posted his 12th consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 13 points in Butler’s victory at Green Bay.  He scored nine of his 13 points in the second half to help Butler secure the win.  During the Bulldogs’ past 12 games, the 6-3 guard has averaged 17.3 points and led the Bulldogs in scoring six times.  Mack, who had 17 points against UIC two weeks ago, has averaged 18.6 points during Butler’s current five-game winning streak.

Shelvin Mack has led Butler in scoring in four of the past six games.

OFF THE GLASS:  The Bulldogs, led by senior Matt Howard and sophomore Andrew Smith, finished with a 32-29 rebounding advantage over Green Bay.  Howard and Smith shared the team lead with eight rebounds apiece.  It was the seventh time in the last eight games that Butler has out-rebounded its opponent.  The only team to out-rebound the Bulldogs in the past eight outings was Wright State, which had a 25-24 advantage.  

Butler is second in the Horizon League in rebounding margin (+3.4).

20 SOMETHING:  Butler is bidding for its sixth consecutive 20-win season and its 13th 20-win ledger in the past 15 campaigns.  The Bulldogs set a school and Horizon League record with 33 wins a year ago.  Butler’s current seniors have averaged 27 wins during their four seasons, including two campaigns of 30 or more victories.  The Bulldogs own the longest active streak of 20-win seasons in the Horizon League.

BULLDOG BITS:

•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 needs one more starting assignment to tie the Butler career record of 124 starts held by former teammate A. J. Graves (2004-08).  Howard is three games away from the Butler career record for games played (134), held by Willie Veasley (2006-10).

•Matt Howard stands in fifth place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,790 career points.  He’s third on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 813 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard is the first player in Butler basketball history to score 1,500 career points and grab 800 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard ranks third in the Horizon League in both scoring (17.0) and rebounding (7.9).  He’s ninth in the league in blocked shots (0.7).

•Matt Howard has averaged 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in eight career games against UIC.  He’s never had a double-figures scoring performance against the Flames in the UIC Pavilion.

•Matt Howard is second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.458).  Howard has hit 22 of his last 45 (.489) shots from the 3-point arc.

•Junior Shelvin Mack has moved into 15th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,348 career points.  He’s trails Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) in the No. 14 spot on the Bulldogs’ all-time chart by 40 points.

•Shelvin Mack has moved into fifth place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals with 185.  He’s four three-pointers shy of Brandon Miller (2000-03) in the No. 4 position.

•Shelvin Mack is tied for 4th in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.0).

•Shelvin Mack stands in fifth place on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 328 career assists.

•Shelvin Mark ranks fifth in the Horizon League in assists (3.6).

•Shelvin Mack has made his last 22 free throw attempts.  He’s moved into seventh place in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.803).

•Senior Shawn Vanzant has posted three consecutive double-figures scoring performances for the first time in his Butler career.  He had 12 points at Green Bay, after scoring 12 against Detroit and 15 against Wright State.

•Shawn Vanzant has averaged 11.2 points over Butler’s five-game winning streak.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .550 (22-40) over Butler’s last five games.

•Shawn Vanzant is 10th in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.6).  Vanzant has had 11 assists and just five turnovers in Butler’s last five games.

•Junior Ronald Nored, who has two steals at Green Bay, has moved into 10th place in the Horizon League in steals (1.3).

•Ronald Nored has moved into 11th place on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 286 career assists.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith continues to lead the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.631).  He’s shooting .677 (62-93) against league foes.

•Andrew Smith is averaging 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds over Butler’s five-game winning streak.

•Butler has hit 39 of 49 (.796) shots from the charity stripe in the past three wins.  The Bulldogs are second in the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.737).

•The Bulldogs are second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goals (7.5) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (.365).

•The Bulldogs are 46-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler has won 26 of its last 27 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.