INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Senior Matt Howard scored a season-high 26
points and sparked Butler to a 91-71 victory over visiting
Mississippi Valley State in a non-league game at Hinkle Fieldhouse
on Saturday, Dec. 11. The win snapped the Bulldogs’
Howard and company wasted little time jumping on the Delta Devils (1-6), who were playing away from home for the seventh consecutive game. Senior Zach Hahn hit a three-point field goal just over three minutes into the contest to give Butler a 5-3 lead and ignite an 11-0 run that put the Bulldogs in front for good.
“I was concerned about this game, because it was at the end of a long string of games, all on the road,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens, whose team had dropped back-to-back games to No. 1 Duke and Xavier.
“We got back at two in the morning Friday, and then we had to turn around and play on Saturday. But I thought our guys came out with great energy, and maybe the fatigue hit a little bit in the last 10 minutes of the game. But for the most part we played really, really well against a team that’s better than their record and better than the score.”
With Howard scoring inside and guard Shelvin Mack leading from the outside, the Bulldogs (5-4) stretched their lead to 20 points, 31-11. That margin grew to 23 at halftime, 48-25, on a three-point field goal by Mack.
“I thought on both ends of the floor in the first half we were really locked in,” noted Stevens.
The Delta Devils never got closer than 20 points in the second half and Stevens was able to utilize his entire bench. All 14 Bulldogs saw action in the game and 12 cracked the scoring column.
Howard compiled his 26 points in 28 minutes. He hit seven of 10 shots from the floor and 12 of 13 from the free throw line. He also had four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in the game. The 26 points were the most scored by the 6-8 forward since his sophomore season, when he tallied a career-high 30 points against Loyola.
Mack finished with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds, and he matched his career-high with eight assists. Senior guard Ronald Nored and sophomore forward Andrew Smith each added nine points.
Terrence Joyner and Kevin Burwell each scored 13 points for Mississippi Valley State, while Mark Holmes added 12.
Butler will take a week off for final exams, before returning to the court to host Stanford on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m.