December 10, 2010

Bulldogs Host Mississippi Valley State

COMING HOME:  Butler, coming off a three-game road stretch, will play its next two games at home, beginning with a non-league test against Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, Dec. 11.  The game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will tip-off at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised locally on WNDY-TV.  The Bulldogs (4-4) have dropped three of their last four games and have suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2009.  The most recent setback came on Thursday (Dec. 9) night at Xavier, 51-49, and that game followed a loss to No. 1 Duke, 82-70, five days earlier.  The last time the Bulldogs dropped three consecutive games was in January of 2005.  Mississippi Valley State (1-5) is ending a two-week layoff with its visit to Butler.  The Delta Devils defeated Georgia Southern, 75-64, in their last outing on Nov. 27.  Butler will play at home again next Saturday (Dec. 18) against Stanford.                      

Butler has not been below .500 since the start of the 2005-06 season.

HOME TURF:  The Bulldogs, who were 15-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse a year ago, are looking to bounce back from a loss in their last home game.  Butler dropped a 71-68 decision in overtime to Evansville on Nov. 27, and fell to 2-1 at home this season.  The Bulldogs were 30-2 at home in the previous two seasons and had a 17-game homecourt winning streak heading into the Evansville contest.  Butler is 46-4 at home under head coach Brad Stevens.

FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS:  Butler is averaging 79.7 points and yielding 60.0 points in three home games this season.  In five games away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler is averaging 65.4 points and giving up 68.2.  The Bulldogs are shooting .447 from the field and .753 from the free throw line at home, but just .409 from the field and .670 from the line away from the Fieldhouse.  
EARLY CHALLENGES:  Xavier, a “Sweet 16” team a year ago, was the fourth team Butler has faced this season from last year’s NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs also have played Louisville, Siena and defending national champ Duke.  All four of the games were played away from Hinkle Fieldhouse.   

LAST TIME OUT:  Guard Mark Lyons hit two free throws with 0:03.4 remaining on the clock to lift host Xavier to a 51-49 victory over Butler.  The Bulldogs had rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 10 minutes and tied the game at 49-49 on a conventional three-point play by sophomore Andrew Smith.  Butler then had a chance to take the lead when Ronald Nored was fouled with 0:32 left, but the junior guard missed both free throw attempts.  The Bulldogs did have a final shot to win the game, but junior Shelvin Mack’s three-point field goal attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim.  Butler jumped to a 12-5 lead in the game, but Xavier responded with a 20-6 run to take the lead for good.  The Musketeers, who won their 28th consecutive home game, led 32-24 at halftime and 41-31 with just over ten minutes remaining.

SENIOR LEADER:  Senior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games with 17 points at Xavier.  The 6-8 forward hit five of 10 shots from the floor, including both of his three-point field goal attempts, and five of five from the free throw line.  He scored 12 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind effort to tie the game.  Howard also shared the squad’s rebounding lead with six, and he added an assist and two steals in 31 minutes of action.

Matt Howard has averaged 16.2 points in Butler’s last five games.  

STAUNCH DEFENSE:  While Butler struggled at the offensive end at Xavier, the Bulldogs turned in a solid defensive effort against the Musketeers.  The Bulldogs held Xavier to just 19 points in the second half and limited the Musketeers to 32% shooting for the game, including just 11% from beyond the three-point arc.  The 51 total points were a season-low for Xavier, more than 20 points below the team’s season scoring average, and the fewest scored by the Musketeers since 2005-06.

Butler leads the Horizon League in three-point field goal defense (.278).  

CHARITABLE EFFORT:  The Bulldogs made their first 16 free throw attempts at Xavier and finished the game with a season-best 16 of 18 (.889) from the charity stripe.  Junior Shelvin Mack led the way with a career-best eight of eight free throws, while senior Matt Howard added five of five.  Butler’s performance came just one game after the Bulldogs hit a season-low 50% (10-20) at the free throw line against Duke.

Matt Howard has hit 21 of his last 22 free throw attempts, including eight straight.

DISTANCE SHORTAGE:  After connecting on eight of 15 attempts from beyond the three-point arc against Duke, including five of nine (.556) in the second half, Butler managed just three of 18 (.167) long-range shots at Xavier.  The Bulldogs hit two three-point field goals in the first four minutes at Xavier, but then didn’t find the range again until just under four minutes remained in the contest.  Senior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs by connecting on both long-range shots that he attempted.

Butler has won its last 24 games when hitting at least nine three-pointers.  

NO. 11:  Senior Matt Howard has moved into the No. 11 on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,456 career points.  He needs 29 points to catch Jon Neuhouser (1994-08) in the No. 10 spot on the all-time list.  Howard also stands 11th on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 656 career rebounds.  He’s two rebounds shy of Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) in the No. 10 position.  Four former players (Chad Tucker, Lynn Mitchem, Darren Fowlkes and Neuhouser) rank in Butler’s all-time “Top 10” for both scoring and rebounding.  

SCORING CLIMB:  Junior Shelvin Mack became the 33rd Butler player to score 1,000 career points, during the Bulldogs’ game against Evansville.  He enters this weekend’s game against Mississippi Valley State in 30th place on Butler’s all-time scoring chart with 1,039 career points, 47 points behind Avery Sheets (2002-06) in 29th place on the Bulldogs’ career chart.

FEATURE ATTRACTION:  Butler’s game at Xavier drew 10,250 fans, the third time this season that the Bulldogs have played in front of more than 10,000 fans.  Butler leads the Horizon League in both home and away attendance.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior Matt Howard has scored in 112 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard recorded his seventh straight game in double-figures this season with 17 points at Xavier.

•Matt Howard is averaging a double-double (13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds) in three games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Matt Howard currently ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounding (8.4), and he’s sixth in the circuit in scoring (15.8).  Howard stands fifth in the league in field goal percentage (.519).

•Matt Howard, who had made just five three-point field goals prior to this season, currently ranks second in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (8-16/.500).  He’s connected on six straight three-pointers.

•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs and he ranks 10th in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.809).  Howard has hit 16 of 19 free throws (.842) in three games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Matt Howard is one of 30 candidates nominated for the 2010-11 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  The award is presented to one senior who has shown notable achievement in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.

•Junior Shelvin Mack had 15 points and shared the team rebounding lead with six at Xavier.  The 6-3 guard also had two assists and two steals in the game.

•Shelvin Mack has 141 career three-point field goals.  He’s 17 three-pointers behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.

•The Bulldogs are 30-6 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 19-3 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Shelvin Mack is averaging 17.3 points in Butler’s three games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  

•Junior Ronald Nored matched his season-high with five assists against Xavier.  The Butler point-guard also had five assists in the Bulldogs’ season-opener against Marian at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Ronald Nored, the Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10, helped limit Xavier’s high-scoring guard Tu Holloway to just 10 points on two of 11 shooting.  Holloway entered the game with a 24.0 average.

•Ronald Nored, who had two steals at Xavier, is currently tied for fifth (with Howard Little of Valparaiso) in the Horizon League in steals (1.7).

•Ronald Nored did not play in Butler’s last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, a 71-68 overtime loss to Evansville, because of concussion symptoms suffered during Butler’s victory at Siena.

•Senior Zach Hahn, who didn’t score at Xavier, had 11 points against Evansville in Butler’s last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Hahn is averaging 8.7 points at home this season.

•Zach Hahn is perfect at the free throw stripe (8-8) in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  Hahn has hit 15 of 18 (.833) free throws on the season, but doesn’t have enough free throws made (2.0/game) to qualify for league rankings.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith had seven points and three rebounds in 18 minutes at Xavier.  He hit all three shots he attempted from the field, as well as his lone free throw attempt.

•Andrew Smith is shooting .643 (9-14) from the field in three games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  

•Senior Shawn Vanzant was held scoreless at Xavier, just five days after scoring a season-high 14 points against Duke.  Vanzant attempted just two shots at Xavier.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .667 (10-15) at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, including 60% (3-5) from the three-point arc.

•Freshman Chrishawn Hopkins played a career-high 11 minutes at Xavier.  He grabbed a pair of rebounds in the second half.

•Freshman Khyle Marshall had four points and four rebounds in a career-high 18 minutes off the bench at Xavier.

•The Bulldogs are 41-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.  Butler currently is fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals per game (6.9).

•The Bulldogs had won 23 consecutive games when yielding fewer than 60 points, prior to the Xavier contest.  Butler has held four of its first eight opponents this season under 60 points.

•Butler is one of just three NCAA Division I schools to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons.  The other two are Kansas and BYU.

•Former Butler player Jody Littrell has been named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2011 Silver Anniversary Team.  Littrell, who was a standout high school player at Columbus East High School, finished his Butler career in 1990 as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in three-point field goals, and he still stands seventh on the school’s all-time list with 181 career three-pointers.