December 19, 2010

Bulldogs Face Utah At Diamond Head Classic

HAWAIIAN CHRISTMAS:  Butler will leave the snow and frigid temperatures of Indiana and close out 2010 in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic.  The Bulldogs will face Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 22, in the first round of the eight-team tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, and the game will be televised on ESPNU at 11 p.m. (ET).  In addition to Butler and Utah, the Diamond Head Classic field includes #9 Baylor, Florida State, Washington State, Mississippi State, San Diego and host Hawaii.  The second round of the tournament will be held on Thursday, Dec. 23, with the final round set for Christmas Day.  The Bulldogs will face either Florida State or Hawaii in the second round.  All teams will play three times in the tournament.  Butler improved to 6-4 on the season with an 83-50 victory at home over Stanford, while Utah enters the tournament with a 7-3 mark.  The Utes defeated Boise State, 86-84, on Friday, Dec. 17, in their most recent outing.                              

Butler is 10-4 at neutral sites under head coach Brad Stevens.

ISLAND PLAY:  Butler is making its third visit to Hawaii, and the Bulldogs reached the championship game in their two previous island tournaments.  This year’s visit is Butler’s first since 2002, when the Bulldogs finished runner-up in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.  Butler dropped the title game that year to host Hawaii, 81-78 in overtime.  The Bulldogs’ first visit to Hawaii was in 1997, when Butler defeated #19 Oklahoma and Pacific before falling to #15 Stanford at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo.  

Butler is 4-2 all-time in Hawaii.  

TOURNAMENT ACTION:  Butler is playing in its third regular season tournament under head coach Brad Stevens.  The Bulldogs claimed the championship of the 2007 Great Alaska Shootout with victories over Michigan, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech in Stevens’ first year as a head coach.  A year ago, Butler wound up sixth in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., with a win over UCLA and losses to #16 Minnesota and #19 Clemson.  Stevens has led Butler to three post-season tournament titles.  

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs turned in perhaps their most complete offensive performance of the season, while dismantling visiting Stanford, 83-50.  Butler trailed just once in the game, at 2-0, before building a double-digits lead midway through the first half.  That margin stretched to 19 points, 41-22, by halftime, and Stanford, which entered the contest with a three-game winning streak, never got closer than 22 points in the final 20 minutes.  Butler had a 28-10 advantage in points in the paint, a 21-4 margin in points off turnovers, a 20-9 edge in second chance points and a 26-6 lead in bench scoring!   

TOP DOG:  NetScouts Basketball named Butler senior Matt Howard as the Horizon League Player of the Week, following his 26-point performance against Mississippi Valley State.  Look for the 6-8 forward to capture that award again.  Howard put on a dominating performance against Stanford, finishing with game-highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds.  It was his fourth double-double of the season, and the 27 points were the second-highest total of his Butler career.  Howard, who had 13 points at halftime, scored the first 10 points of the second half to give Butler a 29-point lead, 51-22.  At that point, he had out-scored the Cardinal, 23-22!  Howard hit nine of 13 shots in the game, including a pair of three-pointers, and all seven of his free throws

Matt Howard is averaging 19.2 points against Division I foes this season.  

GUARD DUTY:  The Bulldogs held Stanford to season-lows of 50 points and 31.4% field goal shooting.  Both marks were the lowest by the Cardinal since a loss to USC last February.  The Bulldogs limited Stanford to just three field goals in the first 11 minutes of the game, while building a 25-11 lead, and just seven field goals in the first half!  Stanford connected on just three of 17 (.176) shot from beyond the three-point arc.      

Butler leads the Horizon League in three-point field goal defense (.273).  

CHARITABLE SEASON:  For the third consecutive game, Butler maintained a sizzling pace at the free throw line.  Butler hit 14 of its first 16 free throw attempts against Stanford and 22 of 26 (.846) for the game.  Seven different players contributed to Butler’s success at the line, led by senior Matt Howard’s seven of seven shooting.  The Bulldogs made their first 16 free throw attempts at Xavier, before finishing the game with a 16 of 18 (.889) effort and then shot a season-best .906 (29-32) in their victory over Mississippi Valley State.  Butler is shooting .882 over the past three games.

Butler leads the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.748).

HANDLE WITH CARE:  Butler, which matched its season-low with just six turnovers in the victory over Mississippi Valley State, had just eight turnovers against Stanford.  The Bulldogs had four turnovers in each half against the Cardinal.  Butler also had just six turnovers against Marian in the season-opener.  

Butler leads the Horizon League in fewest turnovers per game (11.2).  

TOP 10:  Senior Matt Howard moved into the No. 10 spot on Butler’s all-time scoring list with his performance against Stanford.  He enters this week’s action with 1,509 career points.  Howard also moved into the No. 9 position on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 680 career rebounds.  He joins three former players (Chad Tucker, Lynn Mitchem and Darren Fowlkes) who 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 week’s tournament in 30th place on Butler’s all-time scoring chart with 1,065 career points, 21 points behind Avery Sheets (2002-06) in 29th place on the Bulldogs’ career chart.

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 away from Hinkle Fieldhouse.  The Bulldogs could face a couple more NCAA Tournament teams at the Diamond Head Classic with Florida State and Baylor both 2010 NCAA Tournament Teams.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior Matt Howard has scored in 114 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard recorded his ninth straight game in double-figures this season with his 27 points against Stanford.  Howard has 82 career games in double-figures.

•Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring for the sixth time this season with his performance against Stanford.  Howard has been Butler’s leading scorer 38 times during his career.

•Matt Howard is shooting .636 (21-33) from the field and .960 (24-25) from the free throw line in Butler’s last three games.  He’s averaged 23.3 points in that three-game stretch.

•Matt Howard currently ranks second in the Horizon League in both scoring (17.9) and rebounding (8.1). Howard stands third in the league in field goal percentage (.560).

•Matt Howard, who had made just five three-point field goals prior to this season, has hit 10 of 18 long range shots this year.  He’s connected on eight straight three-pointers, and he’s tied for first in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.556).

•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he ranks fourth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.851).  Howard has hit 40 of his last 42 (.952) free throw attempts.

•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 a game-high five assists against Stanford.  It was the second consecutive game and the third time in four games that he led the Bulldogs in assists.  He’s 16 assists shy of Darren Fowlkes (1985-89) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time assist chart.

•Shelvin Mack scored 14 points against Stanford.  It was his eighth double-figures scoring performance this season.

•Shelvin Mack, who hit three of six three-point field goals against Stanford, has 146 career three-pointers.  He’s 12 three-pointers behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.

•The Bulldogs are 31-6 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 19-3 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Junior Ronald Nored, who scored six points against Stanford, has averaged 7.0 points in Butler’s last three games.  Nored had scored just 13 total points in his first five games.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith matched his career-high with 10 points, all in the first half, against Stanford.  He hit a career-best four of four from the charity stripe.

•Andrew Smith is shooting .769 (10-13) from the field in Butler’s last three games.

•Senior Shawn Vanzant had nine points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes against Stanford.  

•Freshman Khyle Marshall came off the bench with five points and five rebounds for the second consecutive game.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench with seven points in 14 minutes against Stanford.  It was the second-highest point total of his young career.

•Butler has scored 174 points in the past two games and has moved into a tie for first (with Detroit) in the Horizon League in team scoring offense (74.0).

•Butler out-rebounded the rangy Stanford squad, 39-29.  The Bulldogs are 5-1 when out-rebounding their opponent.

•The Bulldogs connected on nine of 23 three-point field goal attempts against Stanford.  Butler has won its last 25 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.

•The Bulldogs are 42-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.  Butler currently is third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals per game (7.2).

•The Bulldogs has won 24 of its last 25 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.  Butler has held five of its first 10 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.