November 25, 2008

Butler Faces Big Ten Foe Northwestern

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HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Butler fans will get a pre-Thanksgiving treat when Big Ten foe Northwestern invades Hinkle Fieldhouse for a non-league game on Wednesday, Nov. 26. The game will be the third of Butler's current four-game homestand and is slated for 7 p.m. (ET). Northwestern (3-0) is the second Big Ten team to visit Butler's homecourt in the past two years and just the third in 15 seasons! The Bulldogs defeated Ohio State last December at the Fieldhouse. The Buckeyes were the first Big Ten team to play at Butler since 1993. Butler (3-0) is playing at home over the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time in three years. The Bulldogs were winning the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York over Thanksgiving two years ago, and last year, Butler was capturing the Great Alaska Shootout title. Butler won the first two games of the current homestand, posting victories over state foes Ball State and IU-South Bend. A third state foe, Evansville, will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 29, to wrap-up the November home stretch.

Butler has four consecutive wins over Big Ten opponents.

LAST TIME OUT: Butler rolled to its third straight victory with an 87-33 win over NAIA opponent IU-South Bend. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 39-16 halftime lead and then put the game away with a 23-0 run to open the second half. All 12 Butler players saw action in the win, and none of the Bulldogs played more than 22 minutes in the contest. Freshman Shelvin Mack led four Bulldogs in double-figures with a career-high 19 points in 17 minutes. Ten of Butler's 12 players cracked the scoring column in the win.

The Bulldogs' victory over IU-South Bend was Butler's sixth straight win in Hinkle Fieldhouse, dating back to last year.

POINT SPREAD: Butler's 54-point win over IU-South Bend was the biggest margin of victory for the Bulldogs in the modern era and the second-largest in school history. The last time Butler won a game by a bigger margin was in November of 1921 when the Bulldogs defeated Indiana Law School, 82-14. The previous modern record was Butler's 46-point win over Elon, 86-40, on Dec. 19, 2006.

CAREER DAYS: Freshman Shelvin Mack was one of three Bulldogs to turn in a career scoring performance in Butler's victory over IU-South Bend. Mack hit seven of 12 shots in the game and led all players with 19 points. Butler also picked up career-best performances from junior Avery Jukes and freshman Gordon Hayward. Jukes came off the bench and recorded both a career-high 15 point and a career-high six rebounds in 20 minutes of action. He nailed a career-best nine of 10 attempts from the free throw line in the contest. Hayward scored a career-high 15 points in 17 minutes of work as a starter. He hit five of six shots from the field, including all three of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

MULTIPLE OPTIONS: Guard Shelvin Mack became the third different Butler player to lead the Bulldogs in scoring in three games this season. Sophomore Zach Hahn came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with 13 points in the season-opener at Drake, while sophomore Matt Howard had a team-high 15 points in Butler's victory over Ball State.

SET-UP CREW: The Bulldogs had 22 assists on 30 field goals against IU-South Bend. Nine different players contributed to the total, paced by forward Matt Howard and freshman guard Ronald Nored. Howard recorded a career-high five assists in 20 minutes of action, while Nored posted a career-high five assists in 18 minutes.

Butler has 47 assists on 74 field goals (64%) this season.

OFF THE GLASS: Junior Willie Veasley grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and four other players added six caroms to lead Butler to a 44-30 rebounding advantage against IU-South Bend. Veasley had four offensive rebounds in the game, boosting his season total to a team-high 10 offensive boards. Butler had 16 offensive rebounds as a team in the win.

THREE THINKERS: Five different Butler players combined to hit a season-high 11 three-point field goals in the Bulldogs' victory over IU-South Bend. Freshman Shelvin Mack led the way with four long-range field goals, while freshman Gordon Hayward added three. Sophomore Zach Hahn nailed a pair of three-pointers, while junior Nick Rodgers and sophomore Grant Leiendecker each added one. The Bulldogs have hit at least eight three-pointers in each of the first three games this season, and ten of Butler's 12 players have recorded at least one long-range field goal.

Butler led the Horizon League in three-point field goals (9.38) last season.

HANDLE WITH CARE: After committing 16 turnovers in a season-opening win at Drake, the Bulldogs have rebounded with a combined 14 turnovers in the past two games. The Bulldogs committed just six miscues against Ball State, and eight against IU-South Bend, recording just two second half turnovers in each game. Butler has led the Horizon League in fewest turnovers per game for seven consecutive seasons, and the Bulldogs led the NCAA Division I in that category in 2006-07. Butler's season-low for turnovers a year ago was five in a victory at home over Milwaukee.

Butler ranked fourth in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.4) in 2007-08.

BENCH STRENGTH: Head coach Brad Stevens played 10 players in each of Butler's first two games and all 12 in the third, and the Bulldogs have had a 72-32 advantage in bench points in the three games. Butler out-scored Drake, 20-13, and Ball State, 21-2, in bench points, before rolling up a 31-15 advantage against IU-South Bend.

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME: The Bulldogs shot 52% (13-25) from the free throw line in their home-opener against Ball State, prompting head coach Brad Stevens to shrug and say, "What can you do? These guys are good free throw shooters." His squad returned to a more Butler-like performance from the charity stripe against IU-South Bend, hitting 16 of 20 (80%) free throw attempts in the win.

STEPPING UP: Butler is 10-2 in its last 12 games against schools from the BCS conferences. The two losses have come to Tennessee in overtime in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament and national champ Florida in the 2007 national tournament. During that stretch, the Bulldogs have wins over Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.

HOME WORK: The Bulldogs were 14-1 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season, with the lone setback coming to #16/18 Drake in the ESPNU BracketBusters game. Butler boasts wins in 44 of its last 48 contests at the Fieldhouse, including 16 of its last 19 non-league games. The Bulldogs are 112-15 (.882) at home since 1999-2000.

Butler is 47-4 in non-league games at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1999-00.

EARLY HONOR: Butler's Matt Howard was named to the 25-player Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com and chosen Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net. Last season, Howard was named to the CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-America Team.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler has started with a 3-0 record for the third straight year. The Bulldogs won ten straight games to open the 2006-07 season and eight straight a year ago.

•The Bulldogs have held their first three opponents under 60 points. Butler has led the Horizon League in team scoring defense for three straight years.

•Matt Howard has hit nine of 12 shots (.750) in Butler's first two games in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season. Howard led the Bulldogs in field goal shooting last season with a .583 mark, the same percentage he boasts after three games this year.

•Matt Howard has six blocked shots in Butler's first three games. Howard has averaged better than one blocked shot a game over his young Butler career.

•Freshman Garrett Butcher grabbed a career-high six rebounds in 18 minutes of reserve action against IU-South Bend. He had five defensive rebounds and one offensive board.

•Freshman Gordon Hayward leads Butler's starters in points per minute played (0.6). Hayward has 35 points in 60 minutes.

•Butler is ranked No. 1 in this week's RPI, published by RealTimeRPI.com. The Bulldogs have a strength of schedule rank of No. 6. Butler is 27th in this week's Sagarin College Basketball rankings.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens announced that freshmen Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen will redshirt this season. Stigall is a 6-3 guard from New Castle Chrysler High School, while Kampen is a 6-9 forward from Yorktown High School.

•Last season, Butler coach Brad Stevens became the third-youngest NCAA Division I coach to guide his team to 30 wins, and the youngest in more than half a century! The 32-year-old Stevens is one of just 11 Division I coaches to have recorded a 30-win season before age 40.

•Butler had the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year last season.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the first day of the NCAA Fall Signing Period to land local recruit Andrew Smith of Covenant Christian High School. The 6-10 center averaged 14.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots, while shooting 63% from the field last year. He helped lead Covenant Christian to a 15-7 record.