Bulldogs Cruise Past Stanford, 83-50

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Senior Matt Howard posted his fourth double-double of the season and Butler cruised to an 83-50 victory over visiting Stanford in a non-league game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 18.  The victory, which was nationally-televised on CBS, lifted the Bulldogs to 6-4 on the young season.

The Bulldogs trailed just once in the game, at 2-0, before building a double-digits lead that they maintained for more than 30 minutes of the contest in front of a crowd of 8,012.  With Howard and sophomore Andrew Smith leading the way, Butler built a 19-point halftime lead, 41-22, and then stretched the margin to as many as 39 points in the second half.

“I thought we did a lot of good things and did a lot of good things right out of the gate,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the win.

Howard scored six points to help fuel a 16-2 Butler run that took the Bulldogs from a 9-9 tie to a 25-11 lead.  The Cardinal never got closer than 12 points for the rest of the game.  Butler built a 19-point lead three times in the closing minutes of the first half, the last coming on a nifty pass from Howard to Smith for a basket on the final buzzer of the first half.

The two Butler post players combined for 23 points and eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes.  Howard notched 13 of his season-high 27 points in the opening period, while Smith scored all 10 of his points, matching his career-high, in the first half.

“I thought everybody had good energy today.  I thought we were really in tune,” noted Stevens.  “We always want to establish the inside.  I think it’s really important that we do that.  We’ve got two very good post players in our starting lineup, and we just need to keep going to them.”

Howard scored Butler’s first 10 points of the second half to give the Bulldogs a 51-22 advantage and senior Shawn Vanzant pushed the margin over 30 points, 54-22, with a three-point field goal to complete a 13-0 opening run.  The lead only dropped below 30 points once the rest of the game.

Stevens was able to utilize his entire bench in the final 20 minutes.  Nine different Bulldogs played 14 or more minutes in the victory.  Howard led all players in scoring, while senior Shelvin Mack added 14 points.  Vanzant had nine points and sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench with seven points.

Howard, who posted the second-highest point total of his Butler career, finished with 10 rebounds, while helping the Bulldogs to a 39-29 advantage on the boards over the rangy Stanford squad.  Smith and freshman Khyle Marshall each added five rebounds.

Guard Jeremy Green led the Cardinal (6-3) with 16 points, while forward Josh Owens added 13.

The Bulldogs won’t have much time to enjoy their victory in the first-ever CBS telecast from Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Butler departs for Hawaii on Sunday (Dec. 19) and begins play in the Diamond Head Classic against Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 22.