#21/20 Bulldogs Close Homestand Against Detroit
SATURDAY MATINEE: Butler faces its quickest turnaround of the season when it hosts Detroit in an afternoon game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 10. The 2 p.m. (ET) Horizon League contest will be the first of two regular season meetings between the two squads this year. Both squads are coming off a Thursday (Jan. 8) night game. The Bulldogs (13-1) remained unbeaten in four league tests with a 64-48 victory at home over Wright State, while Detroit (4-10) fell to 0-5 in conference play with a 64-41 setback at Valparaiso. Detroit first-year head coach Ray McCallum is facing Butler for the first time as a Titan, but he's certainly no stranger to the Bulldogs or Hinkle Fieldhouse. He was 3-1 against the Bulldogs as a player at Ball State, 1979-83, and 5-2 against Butler as Ball State's head coach, 1993-2000. The Bulldogs, who will face the Titans in Detroit again in February, are closing out a brief two-game homestand. Butler will be on the road next week for games against Loyola (Jan. 15) and UIC (Jan. 17).
Butler is 4-0 in Horizon League play for the first time since 2002-03.
BEST STARTS: The Bulldogs have tied the best 14-game record in Butler basketball history. Butler's 1928-29, 1930-31, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2007-08 teams also posted 13-1 records. Five of those teams posted 14-1 records.
POLLING PLACE: Butler has cracked the "Top 25" of both major national polls for the first time this season. The Bulldogs climbed from 25th to 21st in this week's Associated Press (A.P.) national poll and debuted at No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Butler was ranked in both national polls for a school- and Horizon League-record 19 consecutive weeks last year.
HOME PROTECTION: Butler is 7-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, and the Bulldogs have won 11 straight games on their homecourt since dropping a seven-point decision to nationally-ranked Drake last season. The Bulldogs boast wins in 49 of their last 53 contests in Hinkle Fieldhouse, including 28 of their last 29 Horizon League games. Butler is 117-15 (.886) at home since 1999-00.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs used a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort to post a 16-point victory over Wright State in their first home game of 2009. The victory was Butler's fifth straight, and it snapped Wright State's six-game winning streak. Five different players scored in the Bulldogs' game-opening, 12-5 run, and Butler never looked back. The Bulldogs stretched the margin to double-digits, 18-7, just over seven minutes into the game and to 20 points, 34-14, with 3:45 to go in the first half! The Raiders, who trailed by 13 points at halftime, did make a run in the second half and closed to within eight points at 50-42 with seven and a half minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs ended the threat by scoring 14 of the final 20 points in the contest. It was Butler's fourth straight win over Wright State in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler has won 11 consecutive Horizon League games at home.
LEAD ROLE: Sophomore Matt Howard played just 22 minutes against Wright State because of foul problems, but he still wound up leading the Bulldog in scoring for the fourth time in the past five games. Howard hit three of the five shots he attempted and added eight of nine from the free throw line to finish with a game-high 14 points. The 6-8 forward has scored in double-figures in six of Butler's last eight games.
Matt Howard has averaged 16.4 points over Butler's five-game winning streak.
DOUBLE UP: Freshman Gordon Hayward recorded his second consecutive double-double and the third of his young career with 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in Butler's victory over Wright State. Hayward hit three of five three-point field goals in the first half to help ignite Butler's strong start against the Raiders. His performance came on the heels of a 15-point, 13-rebound effort at Valparaiso. Earlier this season, the first-year Butler player posted 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs' victory at nationally-ranked Xavier.
Gordon Hayward has averaged 10.8 rebounds in Butler's last four games.
ADDED THREAT: Junior Willie Veasley had four double-figures scoring performances in his first two seasons at Butler. He has four more in his last five games. The 6-3 forward was perfect in five attempts from the free throw line against Wright State, and he finished with 11 points. His effort came one game after he posted a career-high 15 points in Butler's victory at Valparaiso. Veasley has averaged 11.2 points during Butler's current five-game winning streak.
FREE TIME: The Bulldogs connected on 19 of 26 free throw attempts in their victory over Wright State, including 12 in the second half. It was the fifth straight game that Butler has scored at least 15 points from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs were successful on their first 12 free throw attempts in the game and 14 of their first 15. Butler is shooting .765 from the charity stripe over the past five games.
Butler has out-scored its opponents, 101-59, from the free throw line over the past five games.
BOARD WORK: Butler out-rebounded Wright State, 34-27. It was the third straight game that the Bulldogs out-rebounded their opponent and the ninth time in 14 games this season. The Bulldogs, who were eighth in the Horizon League in rebounding a year ago, are currently the league's top rebounding team (+3.0).
MID-SEASON HONOR: Butler coach Brad Stevens, who's guided the Bulldogs to a 14-1 start, has been named the mid-season recipient of the Hugh Durham Award, presented by CollegeInsider.com. The award is given annually to the nation's top mid-major coach. Former Butler coach Todd Lickliter received the mid-season honor in 2006-07. The final recipient will be named at the Final Four in Detroit.
•Butler is ranked third in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Illinois State (14-0) is the top-ranked mid-major, while Gonzaga (8-4) is ranked second.
•The Bulldogs are third in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) behind unbeaten Pittsburgh and Duke (as of Friday, Jan. 9). Butler was ranked in the Top 10 in the RPI for most of the November and December.
•Butler has won 15 consecutive Horizon League regular season games, dating back to last season. The Bulldogs' last Horizon League setback came at Cleveland State on Jan. 17, 2008.
•Butler boasts a league-best six road wins this season.
•The Bulldogs, who limited Wright State to 48 points, have held six of seven opponents in Hinkle Fieldhouse below 60 points. Butler ranks eighth in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense (56.6).
•Butler, after committing 19 turnovers in its previous home game against UAB, had just eight miscues against Wright State. The Bulldogs had just three turnovers in the second half against the Raiders.
•Sophomore Shawn Vanzant came off the bench and scored a career-high nine points against Wright State.
•Junior Willie Veasley matched his career-high with 35 minutes played against Wright State. Veasley also played 35 minutes at Bradley and at Valparaiso this season.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+12.4), fewest turnovers (11.9) and three-point field goals (8.9). The Bulldogs are second in the league in scoring defense (56.6), three-point field goal percentage (.375), turnover margin (+2.9) and assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
•The Bulldogs feature three of the top six free throw shooters in the current Horizon League statistics. Shelvin Mack ranks third in the league (.814), Matt Howard is fifth (.786) and Gordon Hayward is sixth (.778).
•Butler boasts three of the top eight players in the Horizon League in three-point field goals made. Gordon Hayward ranks third (2.1), Shelvin Mack is tied for fourth (2.1) and sophomore Zach Hahn is eighth (1.6).
•Gordon Hayward is the lone player in the Horizon League to rank in the "Top 10" in the league in scoring (9th, 12.9), rebounding (3rd, 6.9), field goal shooting (5th, .482), three-point field goal shooting (2nd, .469), free throw shooting (6th-tie, .778), three-point field goals (3rd, 2.1), steals (7th, 1.7) and blocked shots (8th, 0.9)!
•Sophomore Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (3.1) and blocked shots (1.4). He stands third in field goal shooting (.487), fifth in rebounding (6.6), fifth in free throw shooting (.786) and seventh in scoring (14.0).
•Matt Howard leads the Bulldogs in scoring in Hinkle
Fieldhouse with a 14.1 average. Gordon Hayward
tops the team in rebounding at home (5.4).