Sophomore Matt Howard scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Butler to a 61-31 victory over Marian in a men's basketball exhibition game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Nov. 1). It was the first outside competition for the young Bulldogs, who are coming off a school-record season.
Howard, the lone returning starter from Butler's 30-4 club of a year ago, set the tone early with 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half. He scored the first four points of an 8-0 Butler run to start the game, and he helped the Bulldogs to a 16-point lead, 26-10, with four straight points late in the first half.
Butler led by 15 at halftime, 27-12, and Marian never trimmed the margin under double-figures in the final 20 minutes.
Second-year head coach Brad Stevens started one junior, one sophomore and three freshmen, and the young quintet struggled to find their collective shooting touch early in the game. Butler shot just 29% in the first half, but bounced back with 50% shooting in the final period.
"I wasn't concerned about our first half shooting," said Stevens. "There were some first night jitters, and Coach Grimes did a good job with their zone."
The Bulldogs didn't struggle at the defensive end, though Stevens said the defense will still get better.
"We probably didn't guard as well as the score would indicate," noted Stevens. "But we really tried to guard and technically we'll get better through the course of the year. I'm excited about this team's ability to defend."
Butler limited Marian to 17% shooting in the first half and 24% shooting for the game. The Knights hit just three of 15 attempts from beyond the three-point arc.
Stevens played all 14 players in the exhibition opener and ten cracked the scoring column. Freshman Shelvin Mack joined Howard in double-figures with 11 points, freshman Gordon Hayward had eight points and junior Willie Veasley added seven points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs will play their final exhibition contest against Oakland City on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse.