Butler Closes Road Stretch At #21 Ohio State
OHIO CHALLENGE: Butler will close out a four-game road stretch and face its first nationally-ranked team since last year's NCAA Tournament when it visits Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 13. The game between the two unbeaten teams is scheduled for 12 p.m. (ET) at Value City Arena and will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The Bulldogs improved to 8-0 on the young season with an 87-75 victory at Bradley on Wednesday (Dec. 10). It was the third straight road contest for Butler and the team's fourth road victory this season. Ohio State, idle since defeating #7 Notre Dame in Indianapolis on Dec. 6, is 5-0 on the year and ranked 21st in both the Associate Press (A.P.) and the ESPN/USA Today national polls. The Buckeyes are 48-10 all-time in Value City Arena, including 2-0 this season. Butler is facing Ohio State for the third time in four seasons, and the two teams have split the first two meetings. Ohio State captured a 79-69 decision in overtime at Value City Arena in 2005-06, while the Bulldogs won last year's meeting at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 65-46. The two teams will meet again next season in Indianapolis.
Butler and Ohio State are among 16 remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.
FAST STARTS: Butler has tied the fifth-best start in school history with eight consecutive victories. The Bulldogs opened the season with eight straight wins a year ago and with 10 consecutive victories in 2006-07. The best start in school history was the 13 straight wins by the 2001-02 squad. Four teams in Butler basketball history have started a season with at least 10 wins.
Butler is 8-0 for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
POLL WATCHING: Butler's solid start has caught the attention of the national basketball voters. The Bulldogs received 27 votes in this week's ESPN/USA Today men's basketball poll, and 15 votes in the Associated Press (A.P) national poll. Butler was ranked in the "Top 25" of the two national polls for a school-record 19 consecutive weeks in 2007-08, including five weeks in the "Top 10."
Butler is ranked fifth in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major "Top 25."
COACHING LINE: Ohio State coach Thad Matta was Butler's head coach in 2000-01, and that season he hired Brad Stevens as the program's Director of Basketball Operations. Stevens had been working as a marketing associate for Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis. Stevens became an assistant coach the following year under head coach Todd Lickliter (now head coach at the University of Iowa), and he was named Butler's head coach in April of 2007. One of Stevens' first hires as a head coach was current Ohio State assistant Brandon Miller to serve as a Butler assistant coach. Miller spent on year on the Butler staff, before accepting the assistant coaching position at Ohio State.
LAST TIME OUT: Butler jumped out to a 20-6 lead at Bradley and then held off a second-half comeback attempt by the Braves while posting a 12-point win. It was Butler's first regular season win on Bradley's homecourt since 1961-62. The Bulldogs shot 59% from the field in the first half and led at halftime, 44-31. Bradley cut the margin to five points on two occasions in the second half, the last at 62-57 with 8:27 remaining. The Bulldogs responded with an 11-0 scoring run to post their biggest lead of the contest, 73-57. Butler wound up shooting a season-best 54% (29-54) for the game, including 48% (13-27) from beyond the three-point arc.
CAREER NIGHT: Freshman Gordon Hayward sparked Butler's quick start at Bradley, scoring the Bulldogs' first eight points in the game and 17 points in the first 20 minutes. He hit six of nine shots in the first half, including a career-high five of eight attempts from beyond the three-point arc. The 6-8 forward added three points in the second half for his first collegiate 20-point scoring performance. Hayward finished with career-highs for field goals (7), field goal attempts (11), three-point field goals (5) and three-point field goal attempts (9), while adding a career-best four assists.
Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.517).
20-20: Freshman Shelvin Mack put together back-to-back 20-point scoring performances in Butler's wins at Youngstown State and Bradley. He scored a career-high 22 points at Youngstown and then came back to share Butler's scoring lead with 20 points at Bradley. The 6-1 guard hit six of nine shots against the Braves, including two of four from beyond the three-point arc, and added a career-best six of six free throws. Mack also led the Bulldogs with a career-high eight rebounds, and he posted a career-best six assists! He became the first Butler player to string together back-to-back 20-point scoring performance since A. J. Graves turned the trick against Florida State and Bradley last December.
Shelvin Mack is the top-scoring freshman in the Horizon League (13.1 ppg).
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: The Bulldogs, paced by freshman Gordon Hayward, hit a season-high 13 three-point field goals at Bradley. Hayward nailed five long-distance shots and four other Bulldogs added at least one three-pointer in the victory. The Bulldogs have hit at least eight three-point field goals in six of eight games this season.
Eleven of Butler's 12 players have hit at least one three-pointer this season.
STEPPING UP: Butler improved to 11-2 in its last 13 games against schools from the BCS conferences with a victory over Northwestern on Nov. 26. The two losses during that stretch were to Tennessee in overtime in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament and national champ Florida in the 2007 Sweet 16. Since 2006, the Bulldogs have posted wins over Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.
Butler has 10 straight regular season wins over BCS schools.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+14.4), scoring defense (55.2), field goal percentage (.441), turnover margin (+4.6), assist/turnover radio (1.2) and three-point field goals (8.8).
•The Bulldogs are ranked 6th in the NCAA Division I in scoring defense and fewest turnovers.
•Butler's current eight-game winning streak has tied the 13th-longest streak in school history. Four previous Butler teams have had nine-game winning streaks.
•The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in road wins (4).
•Junior Willie Veasley scored a career-high 13 points at Bradley, breaking his previous high of 12 points set first against Bradley a year ago. Veasley matched his career-best with two three-point field goals at Bradley.
•Freshman Ronald Nored posted career-highs of seven assists, six rebounds and three steals at Bradley. The seven assists were the most by a Butler player this year.
•Sophomore Zach Hahn has hit 11 three-point field goals in Butler's last four games. •Zach Hahn and freshman Gordon Hayward are tied for third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals made (2.0 pg).
•Gordon Hayward stands fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.471).
•Sophomore Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.8) and fifth in offensive rebounds (2.9).
•Butler is the last remaining unbeaten Division I team in Indiana. The Bulldogs had the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year last season.
•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.
•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.